A lot of attention has been focused on the ‘business case for diversity’ – it’s the classic Capitalist focus on “what’s in it for me?” when it comes to how it will benefit a company’s bottom line.
Spending on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives has surged in the last decade. The global market for DEI reached $7.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to double by 2026. And we all know that Capitalism demands some kind of commercial return on ANY investment made…
But new research reveals that the business case for DEI may be having the opposite effect on the very people its aiming to support.
Businesses hoping to attract a more diverse workforce may, in fact, be turning them off by STILL attempting to tie the benefits and business case to the bottom line…money over humans. Again.
So let’s look beyond the numbers and explore the real, human benefits of putting diversity and, ultimately, equality at the foundation of your organisation…
A common buzzword in the DEI world; what this means in real world terms is that your customers actually SEE themselves represented in your business/workforce. At a base level, if you’re a white man, who do you feel most comfortable talking to if you contact customer service? Who do you feel ‘gets’ you the most? A Black woman or another white man? The same goes for EVERY member of your customer base and they are NOT all white men!
Building a workforce that more fully represents your customer base is a win-win-win for everyone. Understanding, awareness, communication and connection, between your business and who you serve, all stand to be improved with better representation.
Diversity and equality matter so you don’t, as my teen puts it, “get cancelled”. If you, like me, are not well versed on teen speak, this essentially means that you don’t become irrelevant or overlooked by huge swathes of your customer base. Diversity and equality are becoming more and more important to future (and current) generations; whatever you think of the more ‘woke’ generations, they exist. And they have and will have spending power.
Never have we had more choice, never have we had the ability we have now to buy globally and research our options. People are voting with their wallets – they’re choosing more sustainable products, they’re choosing more socially conscious businesses. And on top of that, social media puts the power in peoples pockets’ – voices that previously had no platform, can now create their own megaphones. A business that is no longer relevant, risks being irrelevant…cancelled.
Many companies focus on hiring for culture fit with a strong focus on “people like us”. This feels comfortable, a known entity, a harmonious work environment with little friction, challenge or disagreement. There’s just one problem with that…the assumption that fricton, challenge and disagreement are ‘bad’. In companies which value homogeny over diversity, “groupthink” and agreement stifle creativity, diversity of thought (and therefore critical thinking) and miss out on the benefits of cross-cultural wisdom.
DEI – whose true endgame is Equality – is here to stay. Like it or not.
Look at Black Lives Matter. Look at the reaction to the overturning of Roe vs Wade and the reminder that feminism and women’s equal rights still has a long way to go. Look at the LGBTQ+ movements.
Marginalised communities will not go silently into the night and continue to accept less. The push for more – which isn’t even more, it’s simply a push for “the same and equal” – will continue.
Your business can get on board or the very real risk exists that it becomes an incumbent dinsoaur in your industry, overtaken by agile, adaptable businesses who ‘do DEI baked in as a default’.
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