Facing Up to the Realities of Confronting the Diversity Question (Series 4)

Diversity was identified as one of the top four global recruiting trends by LinkedIn for 2018. And rightly so. Diverse organisations are proven to be three times as likely to be high performing and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets. Why is this? Quantas turnaround CEO Alan Joyce explains the impact of a successful diversity strategy for them: “Diversity generated… better strategy, better risk management, better debates [and] better outcomes”. In 2017 the airline recorded a record profit of $850m (AUD), achieved in just four years, from a record loss of $2.8bn.

Despite this compelling case, women (51% of the UK population) still only represent 15% of Exec teams and ethnic minorities (13% of the UK population) make up 7% of Board of Directors. But to replicate success like that at Quantas, increasing these percentages alone is not enough. To fully maximise the advantages of a diverse workforce, all employees must have a clear sense of inclusion and belonging. Ensuring difference is celebrated and capitalised upon. As the LinkedIn report describes: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. Belonging is like dancing like no one’s watching”. Explaining this further: “Belonging is a feeling of psychological safety which allows employees to be their best selves at work.”

To achieve this organisations are utilising a number of different strategies to tackle diversity, inclusion and belonging:

1) Inclusive hiring and progression policies

2) Placing diversity at the heart of business strategy and understanding its link to performance

3) Facilitating a shift in people’s attitudes, then behaviour, to drive organisational change.

As a psychotherapist, it’s this last one that really interests me and therefore the focus on this blog. Achieving genuine change is a big task. What are the barriers? How can they be overcome? Are companies really doing enough to deliver this?

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