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Diversity and Inclusion: the right thing to do and business smart

Diversity and Inclusion: the right thing to do and business smart

Olivia McEvoy | Director, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Services

When it comes to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), few businesses are solely motivated by compliance – they recognise that it’s now a business imperative.

Diversity & Inclusion is proven to increase revenue and profitability, and many organisations acknowledge that it has a positive impact across their business, and considerable bearing on the bottom line.

Culture and corporate reputation heavily impact brand equity. Talent acquisition and retention is a huge challenge, and comes at a significant cost to any business, and improved engagement and productivity increase revenue. Better decision-making, innovation and creativity are key to gaining competitive advantage. These all add value.

A sense of belonging

No matter the size of your company, the ‘war for talent’ is hard to wage and win. With further jobs growth forecast in Ireland, skills shortages will become prominent, making differentiation and competitiveness vitally important.

This is particularly relevant to attracting and retaining ‘millennials,’ of whom there are more than half a million in Ireland, and who, in 10 years will make up nearly 75% of the workforce.

Millennials expect diversity as a matter of course – indeed, they expect to be celebrated for their differences.

Brand reputation

D&I is fast becoming central to brand reputation, and organisations need to reflect this in their employment policies and boardrooms.

Cognitive diversity and different personalities fuel innovation through dynamic decision-making that enhances team performance and improves collaboration. For D&I programmes to succeed, Boards of Directors must drive commitment to the agenda.

Key pillars of a successful Diversity & Inclusion programme

When working with our clients, we suggest a holistic, strategic and transformational approach designed to deliver systemic, sustainable change.

The key elements of this are:

Diagnostic assessment

It is vital to ascertain your current state before you can set realistic targets and goals. Once you have a deeper understanding of your employees’ experience of inclusion, you can establish D&I KPI frameworks and know how you are going to measure success.

A sustainable strategy and good governance

In order to succeed your D&I strategy must be aligned to core business strategy. It must be embedded into the organisation’s culture and governance and become an essential component of how you conduct business.

Informed, enabled and accountable leadership

Sponsorship and support at executive level cannot be underestimated, because, without it, it will be practically impossible to achieve diversity goals.

Diversity & Inclusion data

Collecting D&I data is essential for setting goals and targets and measuring progress. One of the challenges with D&I is that it can be seen as a ‘nice to have’, and evidence-based data helps counteract this and enable measurement of progress and resulting business growth.

Data on recruitment ratios, talent retention, performance management, female v male promotion rates, and salary-related data allow us to develop tailored action plans to address any issues that emerge.

Conclusion

Despite its clear connection to profitability, there is still limited investment in Diversity & Inclusion.

The expectation that change will simply happen – that diversity will naturally come to pass and inclusion will follow – may well be the crux of the issue.

Until we adopt a more transformative approach that embeds Diversity & Inclusion as part of our systems and structures and ultimately our culture, we will simply expect, rather than realise, change.

Join EY for Ireland’s flagship Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Summit. This year’s event explores the actions leaders can take to accelerate business performance through a diverse and inclusive workplace – moving D&I from words to action. Find out more.