Having previously discussed what makes an inclusive leader and why inclusive leadership is integral to overall effectiveness, it’s clear that inclusivity is a focal point for many business leaders. But why?
There is a growing social awareness around the lack of DE&I that has driven this shift, with the Black Lives Matter movement playing an integral part in highlighting the injustices often faced by those of an ethnic minority background. And it’s by trying to address these injustices in the workplace that organisations are starting to see the business benefit of DE&I initiatives.
Why inclusivity makes business sense:
The talent shortage: With the UK facing the highest talent shortage in 15 years, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to secure the talent they need for success, as 69% of global businesses cited an inability to recruit skilled individuals as a major challenge moving forward. In response to this, organisations are having to explore alternative hiring routes, whether that be internal redeployment and development, or previously untapped talent pools.
Recent data found that 92% of business are looking to hire remote workers beyond the pandemic, while 48% would now consider hiring overseas. Through doing so, employers are able to provide opportunities to candidates despite their geographical location or physical disability, both of which may have prevented individuals applying for an office-based role.
However, there is still more to be done. The new Made by Dyslexia report found that 75% of dyslexic people surveyed feel disadvantaged by recruitment processes, while 42% of employers are unable to detail the skills that dyslexic people offer. And so without having a clear understanding of the qualities those with disabilities bring to an organisation, business leaders will continue struggling to meet DE&I expectations.
Employee and candidate expectations: The Millennial and Gen Z demographic are continuing to place a higher level of importance on employers being diverse, equitable and inclusive. A Glassdoor survey found that 76% of employees and job seekers are now placing huge importance on an organisation’s DE&I practices when considering a role, while 42% of prospective candidates would outright reject a job offer if the company lacks diversity or clear goals for improving on their practices.
As a result, business owners are increasingly having to report their stance on DE&I through mission statements and hiring practices, simply to remain competitive in the employment market. Failure to do so risks a declining employer brand and even greater recruitment difficulties – a risk that business leaders simply cannot afford to take in today’s world of work.
Stakeholder’s perception of results: Senior stakeholders are no longer simply concerned with achieving results, but instead are looking at how these results are being achieved. For example, the UK government have recently outlined plans to tackle the current disability employment gap of 28.6%, while also launching an enquiry into the workplace treatment of women going through the menopause, where almost 1 million women have left their roles because of menopausal symptoms and a lack of support.
As the ministerial lens continues to focus on businesses and their practices, senior leaders are acknowledging the need to build and maintain a culture of inclusion in order to avoid public condemnation - protecting their brand and reputation as an attractive and inclusive employer.
This isn’t to say that public perception is the only driving force behind workplace DE&I initiatives. McKinsey research found that ethnic and culturally diverse businesses outperform their competitors’ profitability by 36%, and organisations with gender diverse leadership teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies lacking in gender diversity. And so business leaders are beginning to understand how creating a culture of DE&I makes business sense and contributes towards improved performance.
Why is inclusive leadership so critical?
Effective leadership has the power to transform the culture of an organisation. And while inclusivity remains a focus for job seekers, employees and the UK government, businesses are increasingly placing inclusion at the heart of their leadership strategy.
It’s through doing so that business owners can begin addressing the challenges of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Women Count 2021 report recently concluded that women are unlikely to catch up with men on executive boards until 2036 – a clear and damning examination of the gender disparity and inequity currently in play within the FTSE 350 companies. Shortly after, the Financial Conduct Authority reported that FTSE 100 companies have fallen short of the target to have at least one ethnic-minority director by 2021 – further highlighting the lack of diversity and inclusion within business, especially at senior leadership level.
But creating a truly inclusive workplace doesn’t come from just meeting targets. By growing a culture of inclusion, businesses can begin to combat these issues sustainably. Whether that be implementing unbiased hiring practices, creating cultural change that encourages organisation-wide collaboration and mobility, or taking time to understand and educate inclusion at every level of the organisation.
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Author: Jacques Quinio, Head of Leadership Development, Assessment and Coaching