Modern society is built on diversity, shaped by globalization and technological advancement. Today, however, we are witnessing the polarizing effect of the rise of identity politics and nationalistic resurgence here in India and the world over. The divisions playing out in our lives outside of work can be reflected in the workplace too. Consequently, the contribution businesses can make to advancing a more open, diverse, and inclusive society has never been more needed or important.
There are compelling arguments in favor of establishing a truly diverse workforce at all levels of an organization.
How diversity affects business. With globalization being one positive factor, our understanding of diversity in the workplace has grown to be much more encompassing. Gender, race, and ethnicity remain a bedrock of diversity. But today we recognize that it extends much further. It is about employees from all kinds of backgrounds – religious, political, and educational – as well as sexual orientation and people with disabilities. Companies are discovering the benefits of creating a supportive environment that enables everyone to be their best selves – and do their best work.
There is plenty of compelling evidence to show that diversity and inclusion are key to success in today’s fast-moving business environment. A Harvard Business Review study revealed that cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster while Cloverpop, the online decision-making platform, found that diverse teams outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time when making business decisions. Another report by McKinsey has found that companies with diverse executive teams were 25% more likely to achieve above-average profitability compared to their less diverse counterparts.
Companies that promote diversity and nurture inclusive environments have a competitive advantage as they foster more impactful innovation, improve decision-making, increase employee engagement, and expand market share. This makes inclusion and diversity an invaluable asset that needs to be fostered and managed with care to unlock its full potential.
Diversity at work: The millennial quotient. By 2025 millennials will form an overwhelming majority of the workforce, according to the World Economic Forum. As leaders, they will make decisions that affect people’s lives and workplace cultures. This group views diversity through a different lens. In contrast to older generations, millennials see diversity as an amalgamation of varying experiences, different backgrounds, and individual perspectives. Modern workplaces will need to reflect and support their concerns and it is time for assumptions to be challenged, conversations to be had, and corporate culture to be updated.
Recent findings from LinkedIn, a Current Global India client, show that misalignment with an organization’s culture and values is a deal breaker for most working professionals, especially the younger generation. Compared to 20 years ago, 74% of Indians feel it is now more important for them to search for a job and/or work at a company that demonstrates a commitment to culture and values they support. To help future employers find employees that align with their values, LinkedIn has launched a tool called Commitments where organizations on LinkedIn can choose and display their values from a set of five – work-life balance, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), career growth and learning, social impact, and environmental sustainability.
The way forward is to start with initiatives like these, even if each company defines diversity differently. Maintaining and nurturing their effectiveness is a constant process. Together, businesses can achieve real change, so they can become more innovative, more profitable, and more likely to retain and attract good employees.
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