Win – Win of diversity – Make the workplace more inclusive and utilize the talents of people

In December 2018, Saskia Ivens and I (Simon Koolwijk) conducted a workshop about the win-win of diversity and inclusion at the workplace by applying participatory video. The workshop organised by Agile on the Fly, at Capgemini, discussed the challenges and opportunities of agile working at an agile work place. Participants did some creative video interviews during our workshop, which gained some useful insight about the challenges, opportunities and way forward on how to work on diversity and inclusion.

Challenges: Tight deadlines and high performance demands and limited time make it for many companies with an agile workplace a challenge to get to know each other and understand each other’s differences. Understanding each other with having different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, different mother tongues, different terminologies and different perceptions make it a great challenge on how to transfer consumer demands into a service or product in a diverse team. 

Another challenge is that many companies have selective recruitment procedures, which are not conducive for a diverse and inclusive workplace. Because of prejudices and misconceptions, a lot of talented people are not recruited and opportunities are missed to attract talented people at  the workplace.  For the companies, who belief they already did a job in recruiting people with a different background, inclusion is still at a lot of workplaces an issue. Some people feel isolated or do not feel safe to talk about their background or difference.
                                      Poster image of the short film: Unleash prejudices
Opportunities:  Having a diverse workforce stimulates innovation. By having people with different experiences, abilities and backgrounds more perspectives  and new insights are taken into consideration, when working in a team. Diversity creates a win-win situation at an agile workplace and maximizes the talents of people. Differences in age, being a parent or not, nationality, language, ethnic background, gender, religion, sexual orientation, talent, education, socio-economic background can bring in different perspectives which can be crucial in product or service development.
The way forward: Diversity will be maximized by listening more to each other, respecting each other’s opinions and getting a broader perspective on a topic so that performance will be increased. By listening to each other people will become more aware of values and ideas, which they were not aware before. This will help to make the workplace more inclusive and people will feel more appreciated for their talents and will feel safe and recognized. 

What is workplace diversity?
Workplace diversity is understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people including those:
  • of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations
  • with differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases

                                The iceberg visualizing the visible and invisible differences

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is a collaborative, supportive, and respectful environment that increases the participation and contribution of all employees.

What is diversity and inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion is a company’s mission, strategies, and practices to support a diverse workplace and leverage the effects of diversity to achieve a competitive business advantage.

Why diversity and inclusion matters?
New research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially.

McKinsey has been examining diversity in the workplace for several years. In McKinsey’s  latest report, Diversity Matters, examined proprietary data sets for 366 public companies across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In this research, McKinsey looked at metrics such as financial results and the composition of top management and boards.1 The findings were clear:
  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Companies in the bottom quartile both for gender and for ethnicity and race are statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies in the data set (that is, bottom-quartile companies are lagging rather than merely not leading).
Diversity and inclusion best practices
A survey of 330 HR executives by Professor Roberson found that diversity and inclusion best practices include:
  • fair treatment
  • equal access to opportunity
  • teamwork and collaboration
  • a focus on innovation and creativity
  • organizational flexibility, responsiveness, and agility
  • conflict resolution processes that are collaborative
  • evidence of leadership’s commitment to diversity (e.g., appointing a Chief Diversity / Equality Officer)
  • representation of diversity at all levels of the organization
  • representation of diversity among internal and external stakeholders
  • diversity education and training
What is required to have more diversity and become more inclusive?
According to a publication of SYP Partners there are 8 conditions, which are required to make diversity more inclusive and successful;

Establish a sense of belonging for everyone;
  1. Empathetic leadership is key;
  2. A top-down approach isn’t enough;
  3. Quota’s don’t automate inclusion;
  4. Inclusion is ongoing, not one-off training will make the change;
  5. Maximize joy and connection, minimize fear;
  6. Create a culture where everyone can contribute and feels rewarded, recognized and accepted;
  7. Consider your brand - What is happening in your company should be reflected in your product or service.
Gender and diversity audit
What is a gender & diversity audit?
  • A gender & diversity audit looks into the extent to which gender and diversity are addressed within an organisation (policies, its work, organisational culture and organisational structures and proceedings including decision-making processes).
  • Usually much attention is paid to creating a pleasant environment in which diverse staff self-assess their organisation.  
Benefits of a gender & diversity audit
  • Establishes a baseline on the extent to which staff (diverse staff) feel involved, respected and connected
  • Establishes a baseline on the extent to which the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives are harnessed to create business value
  • Identifies good practices and challenges
  • Identifies opportunities for the organisation
The gender and diversity audit is composed of several steps, where commitment from the top, the management and a diversity & inclusion working group is established step by step. Hereafter research and dialogue is facilitated by the Gender & Diversity experts. Finally an action plan with monitoring moments is established for implementing Diversity & Inclusion change in the organisation. Various research and dialogue tools are applied in the process.

Interest in a Gender & Diversity audit?
If you have more questions on how to prepare and conduct a gender and diversity audit in your organisation and the costs, you can contact  Saskia Ivens, e-mail. , e-mail  Christine Verheijden   or Simon Koolwijk, e-mail.   


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