Most corporations are working for improved diversity and inclusion, but there is still much room for improvements in creating awareness to make diversity and inclusion a competitive advantage.
From statistics to performance
Diversity in a corporate context means a greater balance in different positions (i.e. leadership and expert roles) and throughout the organisation, for instance in terms of gender, ethnicity, age, educational background, professional experience or personality. Studies on this topic reveal that companies benefit greatly from diversity and that diversity positively correlates with financial performance. Teams that are more diverse usually benefit from complementary strengths as well as a larger spread of experiences, references and perspectives, driving innovation and creativity. Furthermore, diverse companies are usually more customer oriented, since the workforce is better able to mirror the customers they serve. This can help them in improving products and services as well as in strengthening customer relationships. Customers also increasingly care about company values and do not want to support companies they perceive as not being inclusive. So, to conclude one can say that diversity is about the statistics or numbers of the workforce and is one aspect of Diversity and Inclusion.
More than just numbers
For a long period of time Diversity (and Inclusion) has mainly been about numbers and statistics. However, more and more firms are realising that there is more to diversity than just collecting and visualising facts (i.e. gender, race, age and position). To fully leverage a diverse workforce, one must also focus on creating possibilities for a majority of the firms’ employees to succeed. That is where the inclusion part of Diversity and Inclusion comes in. So, if diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance. And while some organisations are still debating about potential gains from having a diverse work force, others are instead trying to find ways to fully leverage their work force to have a better competitive advantage on the market.
Understand the challenges
Many large corporations are now working with improving diversity and inclusion in their organisations. Ericsson (a multinational provider of communication technology) is a good example of a company working actively with this. “It is about valuing, supporting and respecting differences. It is about a work environment where each employee can fulfil their potential and maximise their contributions”, as stated in their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. Despite this high level of awareness across industries, challenges remain. As an example, Sweden, being the highest performing country when it comes to gender diversity, still has only a 21% proportion of women on company executive committees. This is not due to a lack of career objectives, but rather due to women still facing challenges such as family and social pressure, company performance models, less networking opportunities, as well as biases against women in leadership. To successfully transform to a diverse workplace, companies need to understand these challenges and find ways to approach them.
Diversity on the agenda
Diversity is also a key priority for Management Consulting firms, especially given that their core selling point is to develop innovative and creative strategies, requiring diverse skill-sets and approaches. Furthermore, client organisations are becoming increasingly diverse and require a change in the consulting industry. Cupole has a wide diversity and inclusion agenda, with a priority given to improving gender balance and creating a culture where everyone at Cupole feels that they have the same opportunity to fully maximise their potential. With support from the leadership team, work streams have been initiated to create awareness, build a better understanding of the challenges as well as develop measures to improve, for instance, the recruitment, retention and promotion processes. Yes, the journey has just begun, but we are committed to making this change happen and to continue to shape the Nordic management consultancy market positively
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”