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Your company needs a D&I program
Whether you’re an employee, manager, or exec, the presence of an effective D&I program in your organization matters. A true company culture of diversity and inclusion changes your daily experience in lots of little ways, which add up to big differences for those who make it a priority.
If you don’t have a D&I program, here’s what you’re missing out on…
People from different backgrounds think differently, and we know this intrinsically. In fact, Scientific American put this concept to the test and had small groups of people solve murder mysteries. They initially tested this with race, creating some homogenous groups and some diverse groups, then fed individuals key pieces of information only they knew, but would have to share with the group in order to solve the crime. Those in diverse groups shared the information more often than those in groups made up of people of the same race, allowing the diverse groups to solve the murder more often.
“Being with similar others leads us to think we all hold the same information and share the same perspective,” says Katherine W. Phillips, PhD. She says the same phenomenon occurs with all types of groups, and it limits innovation.
Research shown by Harvard University highlights another concerning issue. Companies need diverse leadership in order for ideas to take hold. Compared to straight white men, women are 20% less likely to have their ideas endorsed, while the LBGT community is 21% less likely, and Blacks are 24% less likely.
Countless studies over the years have indicated a link between diversity and innovation, but naysayers often pointed out that correlation does not equal causation. Newer research demonstrates a causative effect and shows that companies with a diversity focus request more patents and produce twice as many product releases as their counterparts.
Research from McKinsey shows that conflicts between groups diminishes as diversity increases, which improves collaboration and loyalty, and ultimately improving employee satisfaction. To achieve this, the agency says, companies need to have an authentic D&I program, not just one that’s a token effort.
Phillips says that when people recognize they’re in a diverse group, their expectations change. They anticipate others will have different perspectives and opinions and they prepare themselves to work harder because of it. This not only improves innovation, but leads to greater productivity within organizations too. She takes this a step farther and argues that the changes in thought processes, collaboration, and challenges associated with reaching a consensus actually makes people smarter.
At the same time, happy employees are simply more productive, so gains in all three areas—diversity, morale, and productivity—build upon one another.
The Energy Diversity & Inclusion Index™ (EDII™) survey, conducted by our sister company Experience Energy, showed that 81% of respondents consider diversity to be a top priority, yet slightly less than 55% said their direct managers do and only 49% said senior leaders at their company do. The findings are not unique to us, though they’re a bit more pronounced in the energy sector. Glassdoor’s research found that 67% of overall job seekers consider diversity when evaluating offers, with 72% of women, 89% of Blacks, 80% of Asians, and 70% of Latinos looking into diversity before accepting a position.
In other words, companies without a D&I program will struggle to recruit talent and, due to morale issues, will have trouble retaining a diverse team too.
“We’ve found that when at least one member of a team has traits in common with the end user, the entire team better understands that user,” says Harvard researcher Sylvia Ann Hewlett PhD. Looking specifically at Ethnicity, her team saw an increase in understanding of 152%. Simply put, happier employees and greater understanding improve customer service dramatically.
All the factors outlined equate to greater profits for companies. McKinsey research shows companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their peers, while those in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to. Furthermore, companies see a 0.8% hike in earnings for every 10% hike in diversity on their senior executive teams.
The Harvard research paints a similar picture, with companies that have 2D diversity (two-dimensional diversity; diversity based on traits such as gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation) being 45% more likely to report year-on-year market growth and 70% more likely to report capturing a new market.
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