We all want to work for an organisation that embraces diversity and promotes inclusion in the workplace. As the workforce shifts over time, a new generation is taking over leadership roles – the Millennials. This generation approaches diversity with a different mindset to preceding generations, believing that not only is inclusion in the workplace vital, but they expect these values have already been applied when they join an organisation. Fostering a work environment that will be attractive to Millennials is now extremely important.
Much progress has been made over the past 20 years, with the rise of flexible working allowing more women in childbearing years to return to their careers whilst balancing family demands. Equally as common now is the engagement of independent consultants with niche skill sets who work remotely. There is, however, much more to be done before the Australian corporate world can claim to be completely inclusive.
Why is embracing diversity so important for businesses?
Deloitte’s Human Capital team have identified four main factors influencing the need for diversity:
Markets – A boom in the world’s middle class population (due to higher income levels) and its continued growth, is translating to rising consumer demand.
Customers – Higher customer expectations regarding products and the buying experience are all effects of the digital age. Businesses are realising that a greater understanding of the customer is the key to success and today’s customers’ needs are diverse.
Ideas – Innovation is critical at this time of digital disruption, and having a mix of diversely thinking minds ensures all bases are covered.
Talent – Building a talent pool of highly skilled workers with diverse needs is essential as organisations try to become more attractive to skilled candidates.
The roles leaders play in inclusion
Strong company policies around inclusion and diversity provide the foundation to any major changes in mindset in the workplace. Leaders are the drivers of change, so businesses must support them in implementing these values. The 2015 McKinsey report “Diversity Matters” talks about the value of inclusiveness in the workplace as a means of creating harmony. “Diversity increases employee satisfaction and reduces conflicts between groups, improving collaboration and loyalty” (McKinsey and Company, 2015). A negative work environment impacts upon customers, just as a happy, peaceful workplace will have an effect.
So how do we ensure that our leaders embody the very spirit of inclusiveness?
Important attributes of leaders in an inclusive workplace
According to the Deloitte Report, leaders can lead by example through displaying inclusive behaviour.
1. Cognizance of bias
Self-awareness, work on improving processes in order to lessen unconscious biases
A willingness to learn new things, about oneself and others, and to recognise the value of continuous learning and change
3. Cultural Intelligence
Being comfortable and effective in different cultural settings and seeing the learning opportunity when in an unfamiliar environment
Recognising the value of individuals working together, each bringing different ideas to the table and cultivating an environment in which people are comfortable contributing their personal views
Leaders should have strong personal values about fairness and inclusion, as well as understanding the commercial value of diversity.
A willingness to identify deeply entrenched behaviours within the organisation and challenge them.
There are countless approaches to inclusion that can work for an organisation, but one thing the experts agree on is that businesses must adapt to the changing environment. In order to attract and retain talent, continue to innovate and meet customer expectations, instilling a culture of valuing diversity in your organisation should be of the highest priority.
For more advice around managing a contingent workforce, talent attraction and retention or assistance with migration solutions, please contact Entity Solutions on (03) 9600 0333.