Why diversity without inclusion will get you nowhere

Failing to build an inclusive culture in your team is a sure-fire way to miss out on the benefits of diversity. Six Degrees Executive explores the reasons why.

The most cynical view of diversity is as an HR box-ticking exercise, where diverse talent is sought and hired, but never empowered. Having a diverse team without an inclusive culture is like investing in a high-performance sports car, parking it in the garage under a dust cover and never taking it out for a drive.

On the other end of the spectrum, managers who know how to get the most out of their diverse teams use the secret ingredient – inclusion – to reap a whole range of impressive benefits including higher performance, increased profitability, better decision-making, supercharged innovation and a higher chance of attracting top talent to your organisation.

A study from the Australian Institute of Company Directors revealed some impressive results. Organisations with inclusive cultures are:

·         2x as likely to meet or exceed financial targets

·         3x as likely to be high-performing

·         6x as likely to be innovative and agile, and

·         8x as likely to achieve better business outcomes.

Knowing you are being listened to leads to better performance

A study by Salesforce found that employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

Managers can ensure that everyone is heard by:

·         Creating a safe environment where all team members feel they can speak up and voice dissent without fear of retribution.

·         Gathering – and implementing – regular feedback from the team.

·         Making time to hear everybody’s thoughts and opinions.

However, simply asking if there are any comments or questions at the end of a meeting isn’t always enough, because this ignores cultural differences where some of your team will never feel comfortable voicing their thoughts or challenging the status quo in front of the group. In addition to inviting group comments, make yourself available to meet one-on-one with anyone who would prefer this method of interaction.

Sounds like a potential drain on your time? This might be true, but consider the alternatives. If you don’t give team members every opportunity to make their voices heard, they are likely to feel ignored and undervalued. Even more importantly, you will miss out on what may have been a game-changing piece of feedback.

Letting people be authentic leads to better results

According to the same Salesforce study, employees who say they’re able to be their authentic selves at work are:

·         Nearly 3x more likely to say they are proud to work for their company.

·         Nearly 4x more likely to say they are empowered to perform their best work.

One of the best ways to create a culture where people feel they can be their authentic selves is to set the example yourself. This means not leaving your personality at the door the minute you enter the workplace. Be yourself, be vulnerable, and watch your team do the same. A diverse team member will struggle to feel a sense of belonging if they are reporting to a manager with a robotic, homogenous personality.

Make sure your preferred ways of working suit everyone. For example, a team that has rapid-fire, fast-paced meetings with a “Go! Go! Go!” atmosphere may be the perfect situation for extroverts, yet could be a nightmare for the introverts in the team who are subsequently unlikely to contribute anything meaningful.

Being inclusive drives better decision-making

Including diverse employees in decision-making at all levels dramatically increases the likelihood of better business decisions. Again, there is little point in building a diverse team if you fail to put their richness of experience, background and perspectives to the best-possible use.

Inclusion starts with you

Accenture’s “Inclusion Starts With I” video is a thought-provoking discussion around the importance of a positive, inclusive work environment, and a great place to start in recognising your own biases and creating a D&I culture. Watch the video here.

So – don’t make the mistake of letting your high-powered sports car (your diverse team) sit idling in the garage. Unlock the power of diversity through a genuinely inclusive culture, put the pedal to the metal and watch the benefits flow.


Talk to Six Degrees Executive about how to D&I can impact your future hiring decisions.