In reading through the latest edition of Human Resources Executive magazine, I came across an article close to my heart, “How D&I Can Drive Business Success.” The article does a wonderful job laying out the many reasons why diversity in the workplace is still not where it needs to be, and balances that with a deeper understanding of inclusion.

In the US, workers filed over 76,000 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2018, with charges of retaliation accounting for just over 50% of complaints, followed by discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, disability, and race. This isn’t surprising given recent high-profile cases that sparked the #MeToo movement, and the Starbucks incident that led to a shutdown of all its stores for several hours to conduct racial-bias training.

There has been little evidence that progress on gender diversity has improved in recent years, even with more women earning more bachelor’s degrees than men and asking for promotions and negotiating salaries at the same rates. The lack of progress is even more stunning considering the overwhelming evidence that diverse companies are more productive, innovative, and perform better financially. Studies show that diverse management teams are 33% more likely to generate better than average profits, 70% more likely to capture new markets, and generate 19% more revenue from innovation.

Diversity is no longer just a matter of regulatory compliance or social justice. It is clearly a business performance issue. Organizations that lag in diversity will find it more difficult to attract top talent, innovate, and build a good reputation with employees, customers, and outside stakeholders. Since we know this is the case, let’s turn the focus onto inclusion.

Inclusion allows organizations to maximize the potential of their talent and deeply engage with diverse customers. To build a truly inclusive organization, companies need to start by understanding the experiences of their diverse employees and customers. They need to have strong and inclusive leadership capabilities at the top. Leaders need to role model inclusive behaviors and be part of building their respective organizations for inclusion. This means looking at Inclusion from two perspectives: structural and behavioral. Structural focuses on processes, policies, and practices. Behaviors involve helping to ensure bias-free decision making, and purposely building equity across the entire employee experience.

What I found most interesting in the article is the D&I model that identifies five key dimensions of D&I efforts: compliance, awareness, talent integration, operations integration, and market integration. Each of these five dimensions contain structural and behavioral inclusion elements. Below will describe “leading-edge” success elements.

Compliance – The HR team, top leaders, and the board (if applicable) proactively monitor D&I risk and enforce consequences for anyone, regardless of their position, who violates organizational policies and values. Leaders and HR executives effectively deal with power dynamics and negative behaviors, and all employees feel comfortable reporting abuses.

Awareness – Diversity and inclusion is enshrined as a top leadership priority and a core value. Metrics are established to measure progress, and employees are recognized for D&I achievements. Leaders passionately advocate for D&I and consistently display inclusive behaviors. All employees take part in diversity and inclusion learning journeys.

Talent integration – Diversity and inclusion is fully integrated with the talent-management strategy, including recruitment, employee development, and promotions. Inclusive behaviors infuse the entire talent-management lifecycle and all key talent decisions. The organization builds relationships with diverse professional groups to identify and recruit talented individuals.

Operational integration – Business leaders are responsible for integrating diversity and inclusion in the operations ecosystem to improve performance, innovation, and problem solving. Leaders and managers role-model inclusive leadership skills and make sure that teams are diverse and operate in an inclusive manner.

Marketing integration – Reaching out to diverse customers is considered part of the organization’s brand. Diversity and inclusion is embedded in sales, marketing, and customer service functions. Leaders and employees develop cross-cultural knowledge and competencies and display those skills both internally and when communicating with customers and partners.

As I read through these five dimensions, I couldn’t help but compare my own organization to them. Without disclosing the exact results, let’s just say we have a way to go to fully realize our maximum diversity and inclusion potential. 

References here are to the December 2019 HR Executive Magazine, in an article written by Alina Polonskaia and Mark Royal.


Author Profile

Richard Finger
Richard Finger
Richard Finger has worked in Human Resources for over 20 years and has worked with small, private organizations, global corporations, and most currently, a healthcare organization. Richard has worked abroad a number of years in England as well as The Netherlands, where he acquired a great appreciation for cultural awareness. He currently holds three Human Resource Certifications (SHRM-SCP, SPHR, SPHRi), and is also teaching the SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP preparation course at Howard County Community College. Richard earned his Bachelor Degree in Psychology at University of Central Florida, and Master Degree in Human Resources Management & Labor Relations at New York Institute of Technology. Richard has been writing for Baltimore Outloud for a number of years, contributing articles about his Human Resources experiences, as well as moonlighting as the author of Finger's Food restaurant reviews. Richard has enjoyed writing for the paper, and looks forward to many more opportunities to do so.