Why we all need to care about diversity

Ok, so here’s a funny thing…

It turns out we’ve been a bit slow in getting around to dealing with the whole diversity/ inclusion thing. There may be many reasons for that – some better than others. But that doesn’t make it alright. And actually, it’s not that funny.

Whether you chose to start with diversity in the hope of being more inclusive, or promote inclusion with the aim of becoming more diverse, you should get working a bit harder. You might have picked up that some regulations are changing next year and from April, firms with more than 250 staff will need to publish their gender pay gap.

I’d expect more searching regulations to follow, perhaps an ethnicity pay gap or a disability pay gap. But your activity shouldn’t by driven by that. Far from it.

Your activity should be driven by your desire to win. This is not a box-ticking thing, it’s a commercial imperative. It isn’t about being PC. It’s about being future relevant and durable.

Endless studies have confirmed more diverse teams outperform less diverse ones. Not that there should be any surprise in that. More diversity correlates to broader experience and a better collective ability to problem-solve. It correlates to being more representative of customer groups, which is surely a good thing in terms of product development and customer service?

So, what to do? As ever, transparency is the friend of progress. Get into your data, share it and publish it. Whether you focus on the gender pay gap or want to set a target as you prepare to join the Women in Finance Charter, starting with the data will remove the emotion.

Once there, you can make a plan. Probably best if it’s achievable, but also a stretch. Then get on it.

One tip: don’t be distracted by the “I’ve got two candidates, one male, one female, and the male is clearly stronger” chestnut, unless the interpretation of stronger includes the impact each candidate will have on the team dynamic.

Too often we focus on the direct skills for the job and overlook the team angle. Even if the female is 10 per cent less directly capable and a team of six each becomes 2 per cent stronger by being more diverse, the female should get the job. It’s that simple.

Beyond that, if you get it right you become entitled to select talent from a larger, more diverse pool. That’s surely a good thing.

Times have changed and it’s a one-directional thing. As with most things in life, who cares, wins.

Categories: Chief executive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>