Posted: Thu 2nd Dec 2021
Mo Kanjilal has over 20 years of experience at senior management level at PLCs, and has run numerous diversity and inclusion programmes in the past.
Mo's topic in this blog post focuses on workplace diversity and why it's such an important consideration.
When you think about diversity and inclusion at work, does it make you think of large organisations running ‘box ticking’ exercises? Or perhaps it makes you think of ticking boxes on forms you fill in? Well, the truth is that diversity and inclusion is the key to your business success! It’s about future proofing, innovation, business growth and attracting the best employees.
And people who feel they can belong in an organisation perform better. They are more productive, and happier - that also means they are more likely to stay in your company. With job vacancies at a high, whatever size of business you are, you want to keep people you have spent time hiring and developing.
Here are three ideas to get you thinking:
Typically, businesses are started by one or two founders. Then as the business grows, they recruit people they know, and before you know it, they create a team of clones and miss out on different perspectives from creating diverse teams.
This then can lead to gaps in innovation, strategy and communications, which in turn leads to bigger problems as the company grows. If the team is made of up very similar people, then those who are different will not be drawn to joining that company. There needs to be a clear strategy in place from the start to include different perspectives, and if you’re a start-up founder, grow your network with people who are different to you, so that you benefit from different perspectives.
Without bringing in different people, there is little challenge of ideas, and new perspectives are missed. If you imagine projects to create new products or services - and everyone in the team is from a similar background and perspective - where is the questioning?
You need people to ask why, to suggest different ideas, and to think of things that you might not have thought of. That is where creativity and innovation come from.
There are many stories about this, but the one that demonstrates this clearly is a certain mobile phone manufacturer who designed a new mobile phone. They did not include women in the team for testing, so they designed a phone too big for female hands. Missing out on 50% of your potential market is not a great business strategy!
Smart businesses of the future need to think about how to include different people and perspectives right from the start. Without this, you could miss reaching people in your target markets, for example.
And there is plenty of evidence that young people looking for companies to work for, look for businesses with purpose, and businesses who include different types of people. Diverse, inclusive teams are proven to perform better in terms of results, decisions and profits, and people who feel they can belong in a team are more likely to stay and they will perform better.
If you feel you belong in a team, you can be yourself, and contribute freely with your ideas and perspectives.
So, far from being a checklist or boxes you need to tick, diversity and inclusion is about your future success. It’s about creating teams where there are new ideas and fresh thinking to drive your business forwards.