(4 min read)
International Women’s Day is just around the corner on March 8. We think it’s worth considering how increased diversity can positively impact your workplace – and, more important, what you can do to improve diversity and inclusion in your own business.
Although we are only beginning to develop this important topic, here are some general thoughts about how to achieve positive change in your workplace diversity. We’ll also share what itelligence and our parent company, NTT DATA, are doing to actively engage and move forward.
Business leaders and human resources departments have long had a goal to increase diversity in the workplace, but often it is viewed in moral terms – a question of right or wrong. But, while there is certainly an important moral aspect to workplace diversity – no one should be excluded based on race, religion, etc. – the more important point to be made is simple: diverse workplaces perform better.
An example comes from a recent study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) that showed “companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.” In fact, taking a look at research from the past few years, it becomes clear that diversity and inclusion of all kinds is good for business, whether in terms of profitability, productivity or creativity and innovation.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s a good time to consider the strategies that will be most effective in bringing about change in workplace diversity; especially as it relates to unconscious gender bias. When you consider that — according to a 2019 study — women only represent 21% of the membership in the average C-suite, it’s clear that it’s not enough to simply desire change. We all must actively “live” our commitment to diversity.
Creating a Foundation for Diversity
To begin living your commitment to diversity, the first step is to measure progress. You need to have a baseline so that you can objectively determine whether your efforts are effective as you move forward. To get started, take a look at your current KPIs.
Your second step should be taking a look at your own mindset, keeping in mind that change starts with you. How can you vary your communication and behavior to lead the way? If your organization has not already achieved the diversity it desires, what’s holding it back? What steps can you take to enable change?
We continue to ask these questions to reflect on how we are doing toward our goal of workplace diversity.
For step three, think about your company’s policies – do they promote cultural diversity and encourage freedom of thought? Do managers receive training to help ensure inclusivity and guide a diverse team? Does your company provide linguistic and cultural support if it has international staff? What structures are in place to make sure minority employees have the same opportunities as others for their career development?
Although implementing these structures will help to increase diversity in the workplace, it’s still important to talk with your colleagues about these topics to keep them top of mind. We are all responsible for managing and enabling culture change, so talk to each other about management style, internal communication and issues around diversity.
Diversity has been incorporated as a fixed element in our people values to raise its importance to all employees. But that is a single step along the way, and just one possibility for enabling change.
Now that you’ve looked at ways that you can foster diversity, the fourth step is to think about how you can attract a diverse talent pool. This is important, because the unfortunate truth is that the idea of “if you build it, they will come” does not always hold true.
Building a Diverse Talent Pool
A recent study by LinkedIn showed that, while women are 16% less likely to apply for a job, they are 16% more likely to get a job when they apply. “If women apply for jobs at a lower rate,” asks the Harvard Business Review, “but tend to be the right candidates, why are they more selective about the jobs they apply to, and how can companies more effectively reach them?”
The LinkedIn article continues with suggestions for a number of steps companies can take to mitigate the “confidence gap” between women and men. One of these suggestions is to avoid masculine or aggressive language. Another suggestion is to promote stories about successful women in your organization, internal women’s organizations and networking events.
So, there you have it. These are some general thoughts on how to increase diversity in the workplace. What is the status quo for your organization? What thoughts do you have on these questions and ideas?
How itelligence Engages in Diversity Management
Here at itelligence, we are aware of the importance of workplace diversity, and we are constantly working to improve it within our company. One way in which we do this is through internal communications, with the aim to sensitize and inform employees and colleagues about this important topic.
NTT DATA, our shareholder, has made great strides in this area in Romania and Myanmar, boasting a multi-national, employee-led women’s group – Women Inspire NTT DATA (WIN) – that is active in nine countries to support and promote women throughout the workforce. There are also many other country-specific efforts, including women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) recruitment programs, and both itelligence and NTT DATA are proud to endorse the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles.
We may not yet be where we want, but we’re on our way.
And we’re always happy to talk and exchange perspectives.
What are your experiences? How are you proceeding on this journey?
I’d be happy to talk with you,