The case for diversity in the workplace is well-evidenced and paramount. However, improving diversity for the sake of statistics is not enough. While diversity in Silicon Valley and beyond has been rightfully scrutinised in recent years, this has triggered some organisations to act solely to avoid bad publicity.
The truth is diversity alone will not provide a competitive advantage without inclusivity, careful management, and initiatives that actively celebrate the unique characteristics and values of employees spanning different races, ages, sexes and beliefs.
A culture of truly embedded inclusion is not just rooted within HR. It’s the responsibility of every team member to uphold a non-discriminatory mindset and create an environment that celebrates difference. Diversity is simply the first step, and without inclusivity, is just tokenism.
Intentional development of cultural intelligence, or “CQ”, within a team often underpins this distinction. Organisations with higher CQ levels in its workforce are better integrated, simply because of a higher level of understanding, leading to better cohesion between team members, irrespective of background. Improving cultural intelligence within your organisation enhances team cohesion which grows individual team members’ productivity and increases otherwise-suppressed business prospects. With globalisation pressing ahead, multinationals practising a genuine culture of inclusivity and high CQ will come out on top.
What you can do:
- Support from the top. Those most successful in implementing a meaningful D&I strategy have a champion sitting at senior executive level or on the board.
- Measurement and transparency. Publish your diversity stats internally and externally and promote open and supportive discussion around this topic in your company.
- Push for change. Hire women, people from BME backgrounds, refugees and those from marginalised groups and contribute to improving our sub-par diversity statistics as a nation. The shift to remote working in recent months could offer advantages here.
- Beyond hiring. Ensure the strengths and rich skill sets of these groups are well utilised and integrated within the team. Ensure your team leadership and management strategy aligns with its increased diversity.
- Assess the gap. Speak to your team and ask them how well integrated they feel, then take steps to act on any useful feedback. Take a CQ test to get to grips with how much cultural awareness you and your team have currently, and use this to help identify ways to improve CQ levels.
- Inclusive leadership. Leaders should make team members feel a sense of belonging that they are valued for their unique characteristics and can have access to top work and learning opportunities. And leadership itself should be diverse – anything else is harmful tokenism.