Research shows that diverse boards reach better decisions and deliver significantly better returns. Diversity is not a problem, it is the solution.
But, as our book Belonging, the Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work shows, without actively creating a culture of belonging for everyone, diversity initiatives will not succeed, and the money and time spent will be a cost, not an investment for growth. You can change this if you adopt some measures to ensure a change for the better.
Business New Year's resolutions
Will 2021 be the year that you finally reap the benefits of diversity? Here are seven resolutions for your business to make sure that you do.
- Everyone in the company should have included an indicator for inclusion and belonging in their performance review this year. For example: how have they been an ally for diversity?
- Undertake an analysis of how inclusive your products and services are for customers. As well as being the right thing to do, it will ensure that you remain within the law (businesses in the US are being sued for lack of accessibility in their websites) and it will encourage sales from new sources.
- Review your customer communications – are you reaching and resonating with every community? There could be opportunity gaps worth millions to your business.
- Responsibility for diversity must sit with the whole leadership team, not only the head of HR, people or diversity.
- Zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour. Research for Belonging showed that one in three people has experienced inappropriate behaviour. This can no longer be accepted at work. While more than one-third (37%) of the working population as a whole has witnessed this kind of behaviour, for those in marketing or PR, the proportion rises to nearly one in two (48%).
- Each member of the leadership team should have a reverse mentor – someone in the company who is unlike them to aid their empathy and understanding.
- Leading by example must be visible, especially by the CEO. They must repeatedly show the whole company that they need change. At the moment only one in two people in the UK believes that their leader is serious about diversity.
Personal New Year's resolutions
Make 2021 the year you make a difference at work. Here are seven resolutions to show you how.
- Become an ally – no more passive bystanding. Learn how to challenge and support with the exercises in Belonging.
- Create a 2021 plan for your progression with an ambition to become a champion for diversity, inclusion and belonging in your company.
- Check your circle – who is in your inner circle? How much are they the same as you and can you extend your circle to include different types?
- Breathe – practise taking a breath to empower mindful action for diversity, inclusion and belonging.
- Do the inner work – look for training, learn new skills. For example, ask questions carefully and listen to the answers, instead of making assumptions.
- Choose your words – careful speech is not “political correctness gone mad” but it is respectful and kind.
- Practise micro affirmations – small frequent gestures of inclusion and positivity.
Try these super seven resolutions, and 2021 can be the year of belonging for everyone.
Sue Unerman is chief transformation officer at MediaCom.