What’s the best way to ensure your workplace thrives? Pay attention to how diverse, equitable and inclusive it is.
Over the past two years, we have been forced to reimagine the workplace.
Office space and work from home policies are among the most prominent topics of negotiation, but there is another aspect of workplace culture under scrutiny: diversity, equity and inclusion, or DE&I.
Calls for businesses to focus on increasing DE&I aren’t new. But Covid-19 has highlighted gaps in many organisations’ approaches, and governments, investors and individuals are now pressuring businesses to create comprehensive DE&I strategies.
There is a practical reason behind the push for DE&I; in an ever-evolving world, organisations must recognise and honour employees’ individual needs to help them reach their full potential.
In Aon’s recent global survey of 3,000 HR managers, 83% of organisations have created or are planning to create DE&I metrics or goals. And three-quarters are prioritising ‘driving DE&I in the workplace’ in their plans for the future.
Benefits of implementing a DE&I strategy
By all measures, this is the right thing to do. Inclusive organisations have an easier time attracting and retaining talent, and inclusive teams enjoy a performance boost of up to 30%.
The cash flow per employee is 2.3 times higher at diverse companies than elsewhere, and the innovation revenues at companies with diverse management teams are 19% greater. Minimised legal exposure and positive contributions to corporate social responsibility further the business case for DE&I.
But there is a risk that organisations may be perceived as ‘diversity washing’ if DE&I strategies are not properly reported to external stakeholders or are not appropriately wide in scope.
Finding solutions to DE&I challenges
Getting it right isn’t easy, but as with any design problem, the key is to start by identifying the need you’re trying to address. In the case of DE&I, areas of interest include:
- Health disparities
- Income disparity and financial health
- Obligations to an on-demand workforce
Achieving health equity means striving for the best possible access to and standards of health for the whole workforce, recognising the differing needs of individual employees and giving special attention to those more at risk for poor baseline health.
Setting employees on a pathway to financial health means tackling diverse needs such as those of the sandwich generation (those raising a young child and supporting an older parent), those of people with specific religious and cultural requirements and those of women, whose financial wellbeing often lags far behind that of men.
Finally, growth in the number of on-demand workers means employers must design adequate worker protections for this population.
DE&I at an organisational level
Having identified key problems and their solutions, organisations should think about DE&I across various dimensions of their business, specifically:
- Organisational governance – leaders should disseminate clear external and internal commitments to DE&I.
- People strategy – HR teams should ensure that real value and change is being delivered across all human capital management activities.
- Community impact – engaging with vendors who embody DE&I supports risk mitigation and reflects well on the organisation.
- Product development – reaching untapped customer bases positively impacts the bottom line.
Embracing workplace inclusivity
As we consider the future of work, it’s time to commit to a culture of DE&I once and for all. The rewards speak for themselves, and falling behind simply isn’t an option.
But bringing all these insights together to achieve the desired impact while avoiding accusations of diversity washing and the lawsuits they entail is a daunting task. That’s why Aon has just published an extensive report outlining the steps employers need to take to ensure they reap the benefits of DE&I.
To find out more about proven methods for fostering a truly inclusive and equitable workplace that will usher in diversity, read our whitepaper on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
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