Why placing the emphasis on diversity could cost your organisation money and resource.
Understanding the focus of your work around people (let’s face it that’s what EDI* and FIR** work really is) is incredibly important: if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve how will you achieve it or know that you have?
If the focus of your strategy is on diversity then you can find yourself chasing numbers, often with no sign of success. This is because diversity is an outcome.
What I mean by this is that diversity is something that naturally comes from inclusive cultures, but inclusive cultures do not always occur naturally in diverse organisations.
Dont agree? Have a look at the catering and cleaning industrys- both incredibly diverse, neither particularly inclusive.
You see diversity itself does not produce the desired outcomes of increased productivity, improved collaboration and idea generation. In fact diversity of teams can decrease those things if the diverse team is not well managed.
In fact it gets worse, if you chase diversity without real focus on creating environments where people feel included they are more likely to leave as they can feel like they have been lied to, and no one likes that feeling, well except perhaps Bon Jovi***
If you are focusing on diversity without paying attention to the inclusivity of your cultures you are essentiallily throwing money out of the window, possibly increasing discrimination**** and more likely to see diverse groups leave your business.
If you are still unsure, look at your own numbers. What do they really tell you about your retention rates of people from diverse groups?
Lets put our resources to good use and build our strategy around inclusion. Obviously it’s a harder thing to do, but unlike a diversity strategy, it stands a real chance of working.
* Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
** Fairness, Inclusion and Respect. We Introduced the idea of fairness to the construction sector as an alternative to EDI back in 2008. The idea being it feels much more inclusive. You have to be careful though, fairness has specific rules and meanings to people. If you break these it will reduce productivity. I’ll do a blog at some point, DM if you want to know more in the short term.
*** Might be showing my age there but fans will remember.
**** This paper explains why diversity without inclusion can increase discrimination
Email email@example.com for a copy if you want to read before June 29th 2019.