DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN TODAY'S BUSINESS: Is your organization a reflection of your values?

Position:Eye on Business

Why should CEOs and boards be concerned with diversity and inclusion?

WHITTLE Why wouldn't they be concerned about diversity and inclusion? We have a diverse world and a diverse talent pool. Many studies have shown that diverse teams perform better, and for teams to be successful, they must have diversity of thought, not just visible diversity. If you're a business owner or CEO, and you consider who your customers or clients are, you should recognize that they're a very diverse population. Therefore, having diversity among leaders and among teams helps you better serve them as you can better tailor your products or solutions to meet their specific needs. Customers and clients also can look to companies and say, "Am I doing business with a company that respects diversity and inclusion, and that looks like me or my company?"

TOWNSEN Inclusion and diversity are both critical talent and business issues. To be an employer of choice, and to have fully engaged employees, you need a genuinely inclusive culture. Feelings of exclusion lower productivity in employees and increase turnover. Inclusion can unlock the power of diverse teams, bringing different perspectives and helping to drive innovation. In addition, the demographics of our country have changed. To get the best, you need to be hiring the best. Stakeholders, customers, and clients also are demanding it. Customers are diverse and companies need the best thinking to help solve complex business challenges or identify new market opportunities.

What should a diversity/inclusion program include?

TOWNSEN Organizations should concentrate on three main areas to be successful. First is driving inclusion in a company's culture. Inclusive behaviors should be developed in all leaders who, in turn, are accountable for demonstrating those behaviors. Second is to focus on key human resources processes, including talent acquisition, development, and performance management. Together with a strong diversity recruiting strategy, it's important to mitigate any potential bias in these processes. Finally, organizations need vibrant, inclusive networks with defined objectives. This is where connectivity happens. People stay when they feel they belong. Networks can be designed to help drive development of diverse professionals, provide networking opportunities, and encourage retention. They provide safe places for groups to discuss challenges. Networks also can be instrumental in connecting with clients and the...

To continue reading