Differences are what we’re talking about in this context, of course, and when D&I is done right, it makes companies healthier and more productive while boosting morale, engagement, creativity and innovation throughout the organization.
Although all companies must continually develop their workforces in compliance with legal mandates, fostering deeper D&I value takes a much stronger commitment and effort. Checking a compliance box for meeting minimal regulatory requirements does not equate to being a truly diverse organization. And it does nothing for the inclusion side of the D&I coin, which is far more consequential and relevant to performance.
Understanding D&I fundamentals is crucial. “Diversity” pertains to the collective abilities, skills, cultures and experiences of your workforce. “Inclusion” centers on actually walking the talk – instilling processes as well as a top-to-bottom mentality that recognizes and leverages differences in teams to achieve the best possible results.
HCM Solutions Help Chart the Course
Today’s human capital management (HCM) solutions enable many advantages relative to D&I. They include support for best practices and processes that mitigate biases while optimizing fairness, reward systems and team results. Software, on the other hand, isn’t going to be the ultimate reason for a D&I program’s success or shortcomings. Management needs to be engaged in new ways – and lead by example, questioning the status quo and going all-in on diversity and inclusion in their everyday behavior and interactions.
People, from the top down, are naturally what make D&I programs most effective, especially today in the face of global trends toward nationalistic policies and other forces that can directly or indirectly undermine related progress. We can all make a difference. It begins with caring and conviction.
Enterprises, however, must equip leaders with the platform and tools they need to bring D&I principles fully to life. Tracking and measurement will be instrumental, along with continuous remediation of D&I initiatives, policies and programs. For additional perspective, check out Hilde Karlsmyr’s takes on D&I in 2019. She’s our chief human resources officer – and a wealth of knowledge and insight developed over the course of the past 20 years she’s been in the field.
Take Action Beyond Compliance Complacency
Some disparities and challenges are particularly concerning, such as the 202 years the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap Report says it will take for compensation inequalities between men and women to disappear. In the 149 countries surveyed, none saw equal or superior pay for women. It was encouraging to see Norway, where we are based, as second-best in the world (slightly behind Iceland) with its overall 83.5% gender gap score across four subset categories and 14 indicators that compose them.
So it’s good to see we are getting closer to parity in Norway as well as in other Scandinavian countries. The top 10 in the report also features a Latin American country (Nicaragua, 5th), two Sub-Saharan African countries (Rwanda, 6th, and Namibia, 10th) and a country from East Asia (Philippines, 8th). The top ten is completed by New Zealand (7th) and Ireland (9th).
Accelerate the Work in Progress
Again, kudos to countries that are moving the gender-gap needle, but let’s not forget for a second that no country has yet achieved parity, according to the 2018 report. The average gender gap hasn’t changed much from last year, hovering at around 68% (i.e., a 32% average gender gap across all countries studied). Among the bright spots in Europe, the percentage of women board of directors rose from 9.1% in 2004 to 32.1% last year.
D&I obviously encompasses a lot more than the epically slow-motion movement toward closing gender gaps. It’s about making diversity a core value and giving all people the opportunity to influence outcomes, to be heard, to feel respected and treated equally.
Doing what’s right from a D&I standpoint is literally good for business. Employees tend to be happier. Community relations and recruiting benefit. And if you want the company to do its absolute best, consider how to make it more diverse every way possible. We have plenty of ideas and welcome the opportunity to share them – and join you in your quest for greater diversity and inclusion.