As organisations grapple with adapting to the post-pandemic world of work, embracing workplace diversity is a key factor in future success.
Diversity and inclusion in Australian workplaces is far from being a new concept. However, in the wake of the pandemic the importance of Diversity & Inclusion has, strikingly, come to the foreground.
That’s because over this period workplace diversity – irrespective of how it manifests – has been evidenced to be a central driver of success due to these workers’ valuable, and varied, life experiences, perspectives and backgrounds.
Diversity drives flexibility, adaptability
The reason behind this is clear. In a post-pandemic business environment, where organisational flexibility and adaptability is paramount, businesses need to look beyond gender diversity in order to make the most of the varied life experience of their employees.
Senior executives at leading organisations are quickly recognising this. In a post-pandemic world, a diverse staff make-up is crucial to innovation and the development of fresh ideas.
Indeed, according to recent Forbes research, when asked about the relationship between diversity and innovation, most leading businesses surveyed agreed that diversity is crucial to fostering different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation over time.
Non-diverse workplaces impede change
By contrast, non-diverse organisations — those that encourage homogeneity among their workforce — are likely to have cultures tending to focus on rules and tradition which can hamper change and the acceptance of new and different views.
It’s not only organisational adaptability that’s enhanced via diversity, there’s also positives on the talent attraction and retention side. Here, with the ‘war for talent’ fiercer than ever, diverse organisations benefit from being places that are able to appear inclusive to top-tier talent via appropriate diversity recruitment, development, and retention strategies.
Organisations must plan for diversity
Building market leading diversity in organisations doesn’t happen overnight. While many companies know this and have diversity and inclusion strategies in place, they tend to vary markedly, and recent research suggests that many organisation have global strategies that still don’t allow for much regional deviation.
On the flip side, when it comes to formulating robust diversity and inclusion strategy, many successful organisations make sure to allow for different strategies and programs that address regional needs or cultural variance — all driven at C-level and the board of directors.
On this front, leaders in organisations are critical to foster meaningful diversity over the long term, and this doesn’t occur without a mindset shift and authentic buy-in from the C-suite.
As a first step, leaders should actively listen to understand differences and seek chances to expand their views. This will bolster knowledge that can drive Diversity & Inclusion strategy moving ahead.
Leaders should also seek out opportunities to hear — ideally first hand — from diverse voices within organisations, treating them as opportunities to expand personal growth and seek input from on workplace strategies to expand recruiting and hiring in the area.
Remember, for a diversity & inclusion plan to make a real difference there must be genuine accountability and oversight. The buck needs to stops at the C-level.