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Diversity and inclusion: Which companies are doing it best?

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Diversity and Inclusion throws up challenges and opportunities, regardless of the scale of your organisation or the sector in which you operate. In short, if it isn’t already, D&I should be an indispensible business initiative and driving your company to embrace a wider talent pool.

Diversity and Inclusion are sometimes considered HR buzzwords, with their meanings blurred together. In fact, the two words have quite distinct meanings.

In simple terms, diversity is the representation of traits and experiences in an organisation’s workforce. There’s also been a shift of attitude with businesses looking for talent from other sectors and recognising that the transferrable skills along with a variety of views and perspectives will add value and make the company more robust.

Inclusion is more elusive. It’s loosely defined as the creation of an environment that promotes collaboration, support and respect – allowing employees to flourish regardless of their differences.

Will D&I help the business?

The numbers are in. Increasingly, research proves that it’s good for your company’s bottom line. More diverse and inclusive businesses perform better financially – and are more innovative and productive.

Harvard Business Review study in 2018 revealed that businesses with an above average level of diversity in its workforce had 19% higher innovation revenues, being able to create concepts and deliver a superior range of products to their customers. Enhancing D&I makes sound business sense.

While the Deloitte Review showed how a company – in this case Qantas – can turn its fortunes around with a committed D&I strategy.

Diversity and Inclusion shouldn’t be considered in isolation or as a short-term piece of work. The reality is that yes, phase one of your diversity strategy will likely focus on how you can get ‘diverse’ talent through the door.

But it’s so much more than just setting quotas and targets. The D&I specialists are in agreement on this – such an approach long term is doomed to failure. The strategy needs to be much more nuanced and thought out.

That’s not where it ends. There’s a bigger and arguably more important consideration at play. D&I offers the chance for businesses to reflect on, act on and enhance their corporate values – essentially to change things for the better.

Which companies have best practice?

According to Glassdoor, the companies that are really impressing as D&I trailblazers include the likes of Visa, Nestle, Microsoft Bristol-Myers Squibb and Siemens. Microsoft, in particular, was singled out for its progress in D&I over the past 20 years.

This is demonstrated by Microsoft’s annual report featuring its progress in D&I – offering a candid portal into how it’s is creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace and how the tech giant is measuring against their own objectives as a business. It makes for compelling reading.

Parts of this article first appeared on the HR Grapevine website.

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