Expanding the Horizons of Corporate Social Responsibility
This guest blog was written by Charlie Fletcher. He can be reached at the email below.
There should be no argument that diversity and inclusion must be integral parts of your business. At the most basic level, you have social, ethical, and legal responsibilities in this area. However, many still approach this from an adherence to the latter by only managing to not overtly act in ways not directly harmful or discriminatory to people from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. It’s this lack of meaningful commitment at the core of company culture that has led to even corporations like Google perpetuating staff imbalances in its industry.
Yet, when companies fully embrace diversity and inclusion, there are opportunities for everyone to benefit. From the perspective of business leaders, it’s particularly important to note there is evidence to suggest diversity and inclusion have direct positive impacts on the success of the company.
But how can diversity and inclusion correlate to the positive trajectory of your company? Let’s look closer at the main issues here.
Contribution to Success
The contribution of diversity and inclusivity to your success begins with how they reflect your values. Consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on a brand’s ethics and impact on society. Millennials and Generation Z, in particular, are more socially conscious and focused on only aligning with brands that consistently demonstrate progressive moral values. As such, it’s important to remain cognizant of our connected digital landscape here. The cultural makeup of staff and leadership — and how companies treat their staff — are more visible than ever. When a business exhibits a monocultural staff, particularly in its executive board, this sends a clear message to consumers about how committed it is to equality.
You’ll also find that weaker inclusivity values means there is little to guide your staff to meaningfully engage with diverse communities. Your values should inspire your workers to push beyond their own cultural boundaries, to interact respectfully and openly with consumers and suppliers of all backgrounds. By committing to diversity and inclusivity, you can start to forge a richer workplace culture that helps you build stronger community bonds.
Beyond values, diversity has a direct, often quantifiable impact on the profitability of the company. The need to engage spans across traditionally marginalized groups — businesses represented by a staff of varied racial, gender, sexual, neurodivergent, and socioeconomic backgrounds tend to outperform their competitors significantly. Among the reasons for this are diverse contributors who feel supported by their employers bring a different set of perspectives to the business. This adds to creativity in solving problems, which in turn leads to innovation. This is a concept continually supported by research. This includes a recent Boston Consulting Group study that found companies with an above-average diversity score reported 19% higher innovation revenue than those with below-average scores.
Knowing diversity and inclusion can impact your success is one thing, but what are the practical steps you should take to make certain this takes hold? Your first port of call is to reassess your approach to recruitment. You may well think you don’t actively exclude diverse candidates. However, when a recruitment process has been designed and perpetuated by people of a monocultural background, there can be biases that inadvertently prioritize candidates of a similar culture.
One root to improvement here is to apply candidate searches outside your usual cultural bubble. Don’t rely on the same old agencies and job sites. Look toward online groups catering to demographics you should be targeting — women in tech, Black entrepreneurs, neurodivergent creatives. There may also be organizations that can help with outreach, such as those looking for employment opportunities on behalf of talented refugees. These efforts take a little more time, consideration, and research, but they’re instrumental in bucking you out of a negative cycle.
It’s important to remember, too, that recruitment can prevent inclusivity from a socioeconomic perspective. Posting requirements for formal education excludes those from financially marginalized communities who may not have had the resources or opportunities to attend university. This can especially be the case for Millennials who have had to decide between formal education and potentially crippling debt. Be open to exploring alternative forms of outreach — trade fairs, community programs. If a degree is genuinely a need for your business, produce a development plan that can support entry-level workers to achieve this.
Building the Right Environment
It’s important to remember that your efforts shouldn’t just surround your hiring processes. After all, diverse employment alone doesn’t make your business truly inclusive. This comes from making certain there is a culture of accessibility and multiculturalism through every element of your business.
A positive approach to intercultural communication is a key component in this. This helps to make certain your diverse staff can engage in a powerful shared experience that celebrates their differences. However, if your business has largely been operating on a monocultural basis there can be barriers to this. Ethnocentricity — behavior assuming the superiority of one’s own culture — and assumption of similarities are common issues. You must, therefore, commit to providing appropriate training for your staff and allocate resources to better understand the value of other cultures. There may be language barriers, too, and arranging language courses for your non-native workers can be a positive way to provide support.
On the subject of education, an element too often missing in building an inclusive environment is inclusive talent development. Your efforts need to be focused on making certain there is diversity at all levels of seniority, which can help to start and perpetuate a cycle of a diverse culture. Work with your human resources (HR) department to create protocols that ensure regular career discussions and opportunities for advancement are accessible to everyone. Managers should encourage workers to engage with development opportunities and offer guidance on accessing support and funding for any formal courses they may need. Put together a mentorship program. Make certain this is populated with diverse leaders who are better positioned to understand the challenges of employees from marginalized communities.
Diversity and inclusion are not just important to the success of your business — they’re essential. Commitment here helps to make for a richer, stronger company culture with a direct impact on revenue. It takes work to succeed here, though. With flexible recruitment strategies and a focus on holistic inclusion, you can make a difference not just to your business, but for generations of workers.
Blog by: Charlie Fletcher [email protected]
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on September 8, 2021. Steve is the author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.