Last updated: 08.12.21

The increased importance of ED&I and the human-centred ways to go that bit deeper in lives not just our organisations today

Guest Blog Article by Bailey & French

When it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion, the expectations of an organisation’s people and its customers has changed significantly.

The reality of it means, if organisations don’t mobilise real change, not just in attitude and policy but in everyday behaviours they will not only see a reduction in productivity and performance it could cost them everything.

The data below from multiple sources highlights how even small improvements in ED&I has an increasingly big impact on metrics across the board. Organisations who are able to adopt more inclusive, diverse and equitable behaviours are:

  • More likely to have above-average profitability (25% more, every 10% increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5%)
  • Generate higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period (2.3x the average)
  • More likely to capture new markets (70% more likely)
  • More likely to outperform competitors (35%)
  • More likely to make better decisions (at least 87% of the time)
  • More able to innovate more effectively (increase from 26% to 45%)
  • More able to collaborate more effectively (a 29% increase)
  • More likely to retain their people (78% want to work for a company that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion)
  • More likely to be change-ready (1.8x the average)

Sources from Virgin Pulse, Deloitte, McKinsey and Gartner

Many organisations recognise this and are making seemingly good progress (if you believe everything you read on LinkedIn). But what we’re still hearing, particularly in global organisations where cultural differences and even state laws can be vastly different from those in HQ, compounded by a now increasingly GenX population and a largely hybrid workplace that is increasingly, there seems to be more issues underneath it all than might be realised at a glance. Brand image looks good, but underlying culture not so much.

It’s perhaps time to reflect on the fundamentals, and attempt to understand a few very simple, practical ways we can make more impactful, systemic change. Very ‘human’ ways that will truly help organisations celebrate uniqueness, strengthen a sense of belonging and make more fair decisions based on the unique experiences of people.

What does an equitable organisation mean to you and how do you see that impacting the way you work right now?

It’s an interesting question to reflect on for yourself, but how many people reading this would know for sure the answers their closest colleague would give?

When was the last time you didn’t feel like you belonged here?

Again, interesting question, but do you know what your team, Sam from finance or Aasim from product would say?

The everyday conversations of our people and teams dictate our culture and it’s here where organisations need to pay more attention. In your regular 121 check-ins for sure, but increasingly more importantly in project meetings, at that next sales kick-off event, at the end of that next leadership team meeting. Some organisations are doing a good job to get people talking about ED&I and educating them on these key topics. But very few are helping bridge the gap between ED&I that workshop I attended and ED&I in how we work every day.

An interesting point to mention on this is of course around hybrid working, not only in that we’ve managed to create a world of back-to-back meetings focused almost entirely on the task at hand and no time at all for collectively connecting more deeply as human beings together but because of the mix between home and work life and the impact this has on ED&I.

Pre-pandemic, as we entered the tall glass building after our regular morning commute, our brains were primed and set to ‘work mode’ where we adjusted our thinking and our behaviours to meet the expectations of our place of work.

Now though with many organisations continuing at least in some capacity with hybrid working the way we think, the way we act and the biases we have at home are creeping now more than ever into our everyday decision-making and ways of working and the influence of our family, our friends, our communities all have a much stronger influence on ED&I at work than ever before.

Given that is happening, how many people reading this perhaps in a leadership role or as part of a team have a vastly different home than work life? How different is the culture at home than at work? And again, how many of you can answer this for the people around you?

Having these deeper conversations about people unique human experiences are now the fundamental building blocks of ED&I and the organisations that apply these principles will come out on top – morally and in their bottom-line results.

Leaders will need to dig deeper into their own experiences and vulnerabilities before they can be truly curious and empathetic to others. More will need to be done in our ways of leading intact or project teams, remote, hybrid or otherwise, time for more deeper human connection on people’s unique perspectives and experiences will be the secret ingredient helping organisations to do more, adapt faster and go further.

The strategic overlay with an organisation’s wellbeing and ED&I strategy will also be an interesting one. As we know, a lack of belonging, not feeling like you’re being fairly treated and not feeling like your true self is valued or appreciated can have a significant impact on an individual and team’s wellbeing. If organisations in 2022 are not considering these factors into their wellbeing strategy, and only looking at people’s mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing then I’m afraid they will fall very short of their ambitions in greater retention, reduced absenteeism and improved productivity.

In conclusion, although much has been done to address some of the key issues, organisations in 2022 will need to focus on the core fundamentals of what it means to be human if it’s to make any significant impact. ED&I doesn’t happen in workshops, it doesn’t happen through education, ‘it’ happens through conversation and experience at a deeper more meaningful human level. For global organisations, this is even more prevalent, and you should do more to upskill your leaders and your teams to upskill people in how to be more equitable, diverse and inclusive behaviours into their everyday ways of work.