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InMotion 2018: Addressing the diversity disconnect

InMotion 2018: Addressing the diversity disconnect

Olivia McEvoy | Director, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Services

It was an enormous privilege to host EY Ireland’s InMotion summit for the second year. InMotion is about inspiring each other as a community of organisations to get D&I InMotion, this year with a focus on ‘changing gear’ and accelerating the pace of meaningful and impactful change.

It’s time to change gear

The need to change gear is borne out by the results of our survey of D&I in the Irish market, which we launched at the summit.

This is our second annual survey and we conduct the research to gain a holistic view of Diversity & Inclusion, and examine organisations understanding and prioritisation of, and investment in, D&I in business, and how that progress translates into business impacts. It’s our annual stock take to benchmark our progress as a nation from a D&I perspective.

For those of you familiar with the 2017 report, we might all have hoped for a drastically different ‘state of the nation’ when compared with last year, but while there are some small changes in both directions, there is little in this year’s findings to suggest we have ‘changed gear’ on D&I.

An overwhelming majority of those surveyed agree that an inclusive environment is vital for business performance, team performance and collaboration, and that having a diverse and inclusive workplace contributes to talent acquisition and retention.

Diversity disconnect

This level of acknowledgement is encouraging. However, the majority of organisations also say they are doing what it takes to improve Diversity & Inclusion, but when we look under the hood at the true picture, the reality is somewhat different. In what I call the ‘Diversity disconnect’ there is a gap in what organisations say about the value of Diversity & Inclusion, what they truly believe, and what is being actioned.

There is also an expectation that change will simply happen; that diversity will naturally come to pass and inclusion will follow. Yet work practices in recruitment and leadership development remain largely unchanged. If we want the outcomes to change, we have to change the systems and processes we have been using; otherwise we will be expecting, rather than realising, change.

The bottom line impact

The second disconnect emerges on the subject of profit and the failure to make the connection between Diversity & Inclusion and ‘the bottom line’.

Organisations freely acknowledge that Diversity & Inclusion has a positive impact on multiple facets of business, without necessarily making the connection that has on the bottom line. Culture and corporate reputation heavily impact brand value. Talent acquisition and retention is a huge challenge and comes at a significant cost to any business. Improved engagement and productivity increases revenue. Better decision-making, innovation and creativity are key to gaining competitive advantage. All acknowledged as a product of D&I. All add value.

But if we make those connections, surely we need to invest and make D&I a strategic priority?

We invest in what we want to be successful, even if it requires making a business bet at the outset.

Ultimately, to achieve sustainable change that doesn’t walk out the door with a particular D&I champion we need systemic change – embedded into the culture of how we do business in our organisations and how we do business in this country. If we work and excel collectively on the D&I agenda, we can reap the business benefits and gain competitive advantage as a nation.

Conclusion

If we are to successfully navigate the disruptive trends that are transforming how we do things, diversity IS a critical part of the equation. We need to harness the power of diverse thinking by enabling people with different experiences and knowledge to come together in an inclusive culture.

But we need to accelerate the pace of change and adopt an approach that embeds D&I as part of our systems and structures and ultimately our culture.

It is clear that Diversity & Inclusion is InMotion but it is #timetochangegear.

Let’s drive!

Download EY Ireland’s 2018 Diversity & Inclusion Report.