Four organisations share their journeys to a more inclusive workforce.
By Simon Kent
Make no mistake, creating and maintaining a diverse workforce is both a business imperative and a huge challenge for todayâs employers. Researching the subject back in 2012, McKinsey found companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity experienced 53 per cent higher returns on equity, on average, than those in the bottom quartile. Forbes has also identified diversity as a key to innovation, claiming âdiversity is no longer simply a matter of creating a heterogeneous workforce, but using that workforce to innovate and give it a competitive advantage in the marketplace.â
More recently, research from the Boston ConsultingÂ Group suggested that people who do not believe theirÂ company is committed to diversity are three timesÂ more likely to leave their job in the next three yearsÂ than those who do.
It is not sufficient, therefore, to treat D&I as a tick boxÂ exercise, nor is it a case of simply bringing in a diverseÂ workforce and letting them get on with it. HR leadersÂ must be proactive in ensuring their businesses retainÂ that diversity and make the most of it in every way theyÂ can.
âHR has a significant influence in creating a healthy,Â authentic work environment,â says Kirsty Adams,Â global HR director at Resource Solutions. âWe needÂ to ensure that our employee value proposition isÂ reflective of the needs of our workforce. We live in anÂ era whereby we have a multi-generational workforceÂ in play and HR has a responsibility to ensure thatÂ not only diversity but inclusivity is embedded intoÂ every process to ensure it permeates through anÂ organisationâs culture.â
For Adams, this means everything from creatingÂ smart working policies to assessing the way employeeÂ feedback is taken and responded to.
âBy ensuring that your existing staff are aware thatÂ you embrace diversity and inclusion as a business, youÂ may be able to reach candidates from a broader rangeÂ of backgrounds who can introduce unique skills intoÂ your workforce,â she says.
Hilde Haems, CHRO at global payroll and HR companyÂ SD Worx, warns that companies may not want toÂ trust high recruitment and retention rates as a metricÂ for diversity success. âIf recruitment and retentionÂ rates are positive, businesses risk being blind to otherÂ opportunities for improvement,â she says. âThis isÂ where practices such as gathering regular employeeÂ feedback are so important in gaining insight fromÂ teams on how best to integrate people from differentÂ backgrounds and with different outlooks. Furthermore,Â HR teams need to do more than just attract diverseÂ talent, recognising that itâs onboarding andÂ development that will require different approaches ifÂ the D&I strategy is to be successful.â
At Fujitsu, Sarah Kaiser, employee experience, diversityÂ and inclusion lead in EMEIA, explains that gettingÂ the right communications around D&I has involvedÂ building inclusive networks around the company,Â including âShineâ (their LGBT+ employee network),Â the cultural diversity network, the gender network,Â and âSEEDâ (Support and Engage Employees with aÂ Disability). âAll of these networks are designed toÂ enhance the capacity of our employees to achieve theirÂ full potential,â she says.
However, Kaiser is clear that any D&I initiative will beÂ compromised if it doesnât key into business progressÂ and success in the company: âWe address this throughÂ the use of workforce analytics,â she says. âThis ensuresÂ Fujitsu is taking an evidence-based approach, settingÂ meaningful targets, and designing interventions thatÂ will enhance the capacity of employees to achieve theirÂ full potential and deliver what matters to customers.â
In recent years, Philip Morris International (PMI)Â has undertaken a radical change within its business,Â and the journey continues with D&I at its veryÂ heart. Having committed to becoming a smoke-freeÂ business, the company is reinventing itself aroundÂ diversity. Indeed, so important is this issue that HRÂ Director Charles Bendottiâs department has beenÂ renamed to âPeople and Culture.â Bendotti wouldÂ also rather address inclusion before diversity since:Â âDiversity is pretty easy to do. Creating a mix amongÂ your workforce is straightforward but inclusion isÂ much more complex. Thatâs about how the mix worksÂ together.â
Whilst recruiting a more diverse workforce, PMI hasÂ had to challenge and change their existing culture.Â The switch to smoke-free has required new skillsâparticularly in the field of technologyâbut theÂ challenge has also been to alter the makeup of theÂ workforce to address the gender balance. PMI strivesÂ to become truly multi-cultural, a particular issue sinceÂ some in the organization felt that being a multinationalÂ business made the company âdiverse byÂ default.â
Having started with a programmatic approach toÂ diversity and inclusion, Bendotti and his team realisedÂ they needed to address company culture. They didÂ this through an initiative that reached nearly 10,000Â employees across the business. These employees wereÂ asked what aspects of the organisation should beÂ maintained and where change should occur as theyÂ moved forward.
Using this to define the new culture, the next moveÂ was to embed that culture across the business. ThisÂ started with talent acquisition but has since beenÂ adopted in practically every other area of the business.Â Consequently, the process has touched everyone in theÂ business, with particular attention being paid to theÂ leadership team. âNow what we do not only embedsÂ diversity into talent acquisition but itâs there in everyÂ learning experience you may have at the company,Â every assessment, and every meeting,â says Bendotti. “We went from a programmatic approach to one whichÂ means inclusion is considered everywhere.â
By starting down the road and taking clear strongÂ diversity initiatives, HR can help organisations becomeÂ automatically inclusive in their everyday business.