The aim of many DE&I initiatives is to get employees from diverse backgrounds more engaged. Being more engaged means more overall productivity. However, the connection between these two focuses– productivity and DE&I– is often absent as these efforts are in their own silos in many organizations. Creating programs and policies that reflect these two challenges as all part of helping to make your teams work more effectively can benefit your organization.
Research shows that diversity increases productivity. A more productive workforce translates to higher profits. Secondly, diverse teams tend to be more creative and better at problem-solving. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace can help promote a safer and healthier workforce. All of that can mean reduced costs for your organization. To attract and support high-level and productive workers, leadership needs to make sure that the workplace actively values good physical and mental health as well as a safe workplace, both physically and psychologically.
Perception is reality. Many companies have programs and policies in place. However, their employees may not see these as inclusive or making much of a difference. The best practice is to get the most honest feedback you can, which usually means getting it anonymously. You may even need to bring in a third party to get the unvarnished information you need to make your organization better.
Once you have the feedback, preferably broken down by different segments of your population, you can start to understand what is working and what needs improvement. Don’t forget to think about diversity through a large range of descriptors and the intersections of these descriptors. An employee could see themselves as a member of several different groups. For example, an employee could identify as a woman, Latina, and over 50 or Male, Jewish, and LGBTQ+. By 2023, 25% of the US workforce will be 55 or older. That is another lens to consider.
What You Can Do
If you’ve done a deep dive on the different groups in your organization, share that information with everyone in your company. If a team, location, or level of management, lacks diversity, this shows that the company recognizes there needs to be improvement. What must follow, however, is sharing clear action steps that will be taken and how success in improving diversity will be measured.
Make sure that diversity and inclusion trainings you may bring in meet your company’s specific needs. Give some consideration to what DE&I trainings should be in place for the general workforce, new managers, established leaders, and for those at the top. This type of targeted approach for different levels of the organization can pay off in accelerating true, intentional inclusion and increase productivity.
One more important consideration is who are you bringing in to deliver the training and/or help you understand your baseline, when it comes to DE&I. Does the training and/or organization have extensive experience with the different groups you have in your organization? There are a lot of people out there that go through a certification program but may not have the depth of knowledge and experience to help you meet your goals. Make sure that what you are paying for leads to measurable results.
When your organization can say that there is true diversity at every level, that everyone is respected and can contribute to projects, innovation, and making the company grow, leadership wins. Word will get out that your company is the place where talent from all backgrounds is welcomed and valued. And all of that contributes to a much stronger financial bottom line.