When I think about my time in D&I and observing the motivations of people and organizations, they can usually be categorised into three areas:
1 – Because we have to
Legislation and regulations govern much of this space and ensure that organizations have to comply with certain rules
2 – Because it’s good for the business
Countless studies have shown that diverse teams can deliver improved results
3 – Because it’s the right thing to do
D&I is a morally compelling argument; something that should be done, because it would be wrong not to
Where I’ve seen D&I work best, is where the organization understands and uses all three of these motivating factors. That’s how you can really bring D&I to life.
Thinking about Global Firms, ones who face a multitude of challenges and who are constantly questioning how they will continue to compete in the future, getting them to make D&I a priority might seem like an uphill battle – but I think it should be the number one priority.
At EY D&I is our top priority, because we believe it’s so integral to all elements of a successful culture, and therefore workplace.
The first thing to note is that global firms, have global customers. So, it follows that having a workforce and a culture that reflects our customers values, can only be of benefit.
That said, the diversity of the world that we live in provides us with many situations where we must act with cultural sensitivity, and where we must be adaptable in our approach. At EY we have a Global Inclusion and Non-Discrimination Policy, which to paraphrase states that we should build a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. This is a policy which we all have to adhere to, regardless of where in the world we are working. However, we apply local understanding when working in new environments. You could say that, we have global policies which we execute with local sensitivity.
As we know, diverse teams can provide challenges, but there’s so much evidence to show that they create a greater output, are more innovative and spot more opportunities – so I think it’s important to reframe our thinking from challenges, to opportunities.
One of the great things about diversity is that it disrupts ‘normal’ processes. Diverse teams make your organization look at things through multiple lenses – we can’t waste that opportunity – we have to provide spaces and ensure our processes are in place to support that diversity, from flexible working, to respecting differences in cultures.
So, my challenge to organizations is – why isn’t D&I your number one priority?