More and more businesses are realising that diversity and inclusion aren’t just nice-to-haves — they’re essential to the modern workforce. In fact, 54 percent of UK employees say that their company should do more to increase diversity and inclusion, according to a new Glassdoor survey. But why is this the case?
For one reason, today’s employees expect companies’ policies and working environments to reflect an increasingly socially-conscious and diverse population. But beyond that, there’s a strong business case for it as well. Research has proved that diverse organisations are more productive, innovative and profitable. But even with such a strong case for increasing diversity and inclusion, many companies struggle to successfully do so. So what are some concrete steps you can take to get it right?
We chatted with Boubacar Sidibé, Group Diversity Director at Capgemini, to get his thoughts. Capgemini has been recognised numerous times for their diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as receiving an Economic Dividends for Gender Equality certification in eight different countries; being named among the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality,” and receiving a perfect score on the 2019 Corporate Equality Index developed by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation; and establishing a presence in more than 40 countries, with employees representing 120 nationalities and speaking more than 100 different languages. Here were a few of his top tips for strengthening diversity and inclusion at your organisation.
1. Expand Your Definition of Diversity
When people hear “diversity,” they often think of ethnicity and gender — and while these are important facets, they are far from the only dimensions that matter.
“As a people business and organisation, we view diversity as everything that makes us who we are – our gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, age, religion, the languages we speak, our social backgrounds, our communication styles and our varied experiences in life and work,” Boubacar says. “We view diversity not only as a mix of people across each of these dimensions, but also as favouring a variety of practises and experiences that enrich us all.”
In your company’s efforts to attract and retain diverse talent, make sure that you’re not only focusing on a couple of these factors — you should take a holistic approach and speak to underrepresented groups of all kinds.
2. Create a Sense of Belonging
Of course, having a diverse employee population won’t mean much if none of them feel comfortable in their working environment. Too many firms make the mistake of recruiting diverse talent only for them to quit shortly after when they fail to feel a sense of true belonging. To combat this, Capgemini’s UK division has developed a programme called Active Inclusion, which has become part of the organisation’s DNA.
Aimed at promoting inclusivity among five pillars — LGBT+, social mobility, gender, multiculturalism and disability — Active Inclusion comprises four key elements.
- Leadership: It’s crucial that this journey is led from the top of the organisation, demonstrating commitment to this agenda.
- Actively Inclusive People: Our employees have accountability for this agenda. We ask our employees to input into our strategy, through our Active Inclusion survey.
- Actively Inclusive Workplace: We look at every element of our employer offering with a lens of inclusivity, to ensure that we not only attract and recruit a diverse group of people, but also retain and develop those individuals once they are part of our team.
- Measurement and Reporting: The development of an interactive and cutting-edge analytics tool has enabled us to make a step-change in this journey, allowing us to pinpoint pain points and progress on a month-by-month basis. Data continues to allow us to monitor the impact of every change we make on this journey.
By taking concrete steps to bolster inclusion at your firm and then measuring the impact, you’ll be able to tell what’s working and what isn’t, allowing you to adjust your strategy as necessary.
3. Take Action for Equal Opportunity
A lot of companies talk a big game when it comes to diversity and inclusion, but they don’t always follow through with concrete action. If you fail to follow through, however, your employees will know. Instead of telling candidates and employees how your organisation is diverse and inclusive, make sure to show them.
Capgemini has demonstrated their commitment to diversity and inclusion through many concrete actions. For one, since 2018, diversity ambassadors have promoted a culture of sharing and tolerance in the day-to-day operations of Capgemini’s Indian teams. In 2018, nearly a third of employees with disabilities received promotions in India, as recruiting campaigns intensified. Capgemini teams in several countries also organise workshops and conferences to create a more inclusive work environment, encourage gender parity, promote equal opportunity and foster a better understanding of the challenges of those facing discrimination.
"If you want to move the dial on diversity you have to make some positive interventions as the dial won’t move with good intent alone," Boubacar advises.
4. Support Employee Resource Groups
One of the most powerful ways to cultivate a sense of belonging within your organisation is to establish employee resource groups (ERGs) — company-sponsored groups that unite employees who share a common characteristic such as gender, race or sexual orientation. As an example, in North America, there are 2,200 employees among the 11 different Capgemini ERGs, which include groups like CREATE, Collaborating to Reach Excellence in Asian Talent & Expertise, and OUTfront, a group that supports LGBTQA+ employees.
ERGs can be instrumental in raising awareness and effecting change for different populations in the workplace. What’s more, ERGs foster a sense of community for employees from underrepresented groups, allowing them a safe space in which to discuss their unique triumphs and challenges. ERGs may choose to bring in guest speakers, host social events, create mentorship opportunities, or simply provide an environment in which employees can bond over a shared trait. By fostering ERGs’ engagement, you can demonstrate that your company is truly committed to honouring and celebrating the many different groups that make up your workforce.
5. Secure Leadership Buy-in
Company culture is often said to be top-down — that is, the values, opinions and attitudes shared by the highest leadership team trickle down to the rest of the organisation. So if your company is serious about increasing diversity and inclusion, it’s imperative to get your leadership team on board with the idea.
“To succeed, a D&I program needs to secure buy-in from senior management,” Boubacar says. “Obtaining buy-in requires HR professionals to outline how a diversity and inclusion program will help the company reach strategic goals, laying out the business case for the program.”
Without a full-time champion of these efforts, though, this can be challenging. When increasing diversity and inclusion is only one part of somebody’s role, they rarely have the time and energy needed to make a real difference in the workplace. If this is the case at your firm, you may want to consider hiring a Head of Diversity & Inclusion.
“In this domain, a Head of D&I could help the top management embrace the D&I strategy, notably in bringing deep insights and strategic thinking, sharing best practises and a clear view of the metrics,” Boubacar adds.
6. Get Peers Involved
While it’s essential to have support from the senior leadership team, it’s also important to remember that each and every employee at your company plays a part in creating a more diverse and inclusive environment. To mobilise these ambassadors of diversity and inclusion, companies can invite employees from all different levels and departments to weigh in with their opinions and help shape policies and practises, perhaps as part of a dedicated council or committee.
“When you are implementing a Diversity & Inclusion program, the key to success is also your capacity to partner with your clients and peers to promote equity, diversity and inclusion, and to bring about positive change in your industry,” Boubacar says. “It is all about developing long-term relationships with your ecosystem as a responsible company.”
While there isn’t one simple solution to fixing a lack of diversity and inclusion, every step that your organisation takes can make a difference. And if you prioritise concrete actions like developing inclusion programmes, employee resource groups and peer committees, you might just make a difference.