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Time to rethink diversity and inclusion?

I posted this on Linkedin recently and I’ve had a great response. So, this is just in case you missed it.

I’ve just read one of my favourite annual publications, the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey.

It’s well worth a read if you’re a business leader in any size of organisation. Or just interested in this kind of stuff in the context of a digital world and shifting demographics. The insight isn’t sector specific, but it’s relevant to all of us – whether we’re an employer, employee, customer, entrepreneur or policy-maker – because it’s about all of us.

I’ve read this for the last few years now, and at the risk of stating the obvious, the thing that stands out is just how quickly things are changing. Digital technology is changing organisational design, leadership, employee experience, careers and employment structures. Technology helps businesses work across networks of different people. This, along with changing demographics, is also raising the stakes for diversity and inclusion (D&I) issues.

Those who still come out with stuff like, ‘All women events? Humph, that’s discriminating against men…’ or those who say with righteous indignation, ‘I don’t get positive discrimination, it should only be on merit…’ should have a read.

There’s much more to the Deloitte survey than D&I tends. This is only one of the 10 human capital trends the study covers. But it’s perhaps one we should focus on.

I’m not a huge fan of jumping on bandwagons, but the ‘me too’ movement, Presidents Club events and the BBC gender pay gap debacle all highlight important issues of bias and inequality. And the issues don’t just relate to gender, race or social identities. Deloitte calls on organisations to ‘expand’ the definition of diversity.

‘Research shows that one of the biggest sources of bias in companies is a lack of diversity of thought. Leaders…can benefit by listening to people who think differently, because they often bring some of the team’s most innovative ideas.’

Of course, we should all complete on the basis of merit, but the fact is, we’re a long way from being able to do this. The survey shows that despite 78% of respondents believing that diversity and inclusion gives a competitive advantage, only 6% of companies link pay and rewards to diversity outcomes.

This is significant because the survey also concludes that training and education aren’t enough. Things won’t change until D&I are genuinely embedded in organisational systems, processes, controls – including leadership accountability. It can only become the cultural norm once people understand and are able to overcome the biases that influence them.

That’s me off my soap-box. Dig in and hats off to Deloitte for another cracking bit of research.

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