In my opinion, over the next 5 to 10 years, we are going to see that companies which embrace diversity and inclusion will have a distinct competitive advantage in their chosen markets. Companies with diverse teams and thinking will be better prepared to compete and thrive in the age of accelerated disruption.
According to a recent Forbes study, a diverse and inclusive team will make better business decisions 87 percent of the time1. Innovation, speed and agility are some of the real-life business outcomes that are greatly improved with a diverse workforce.
One of the biggest challenges for organizations is where to start. They may know intellectually that they need to become more diverse and inclusive, but they don’t know what steps to take to implement those changes. My advice, is to look across all the dimensions of your business, from your governing body to the executive team to the staff in the field. Find a pocket where you’re already getting it right and see where you can replicate that success and those behaviors in other parts of the enterprise. I believe that if organizations could do everywhere what they’re doing exceptionally well somewhere, that would be amazing.
What I do know is that doing nothing is the worst decision to be made. Broadly speaking, embracing the status quo is an extremely risky proposition and could lead to extinction.
One organization that is doing great things to help empower women is the National Charity League. It’s a non-profit organization of mother and daughter members in chapters across the US. Their vision is to develop strong women leaders who serve and impact their communities in a positive way. It’s groups like this that are helping to give young women visibility, mentorship and opportunities, both in terms of volunteering and philanthropy but also opportunities to interact with successful women in business.
In addition to my day-to-day role, I am also passionate about the topic of diversity and inclusion from the personal point of view as a father. Having a daughter in college who is currently looking at prospective employers provides a different perspective. While she and her peers view employers through a similar lens to what I would have used years ago - the people they interviewed with, the brand of the business and the types of clients they serve - at the end of the day, the decision to work somewhere or not often comes down to gut instinct. Employers need to understand that the instincts of young people today are more finely attuned to issues of diversity and inclusion. That means if employers want to be able to attract the best and the brightest, they’re going to have to make inroads in these areas and articulate why their business will benefit.
When I think of both our profession and our organization, we have done well in embracing diversity and inclusion. But at the same time, we can and must do much better.
1. Source: Hacking Diversity with Inclusive Decision Making: Forbes 2017
This article represents the views of the author(s) only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG LLP