The Edit Blog

Make diversity your main business goal

ARTICLE BY Jamie Miles
    READ TIME: 2 mins
    26th November 2019

    Let’s be honest, telling an agency they need more diverse teams is the same as telling the government there is a climate emergency – everyone knows there’s something that needs to be done. They just haven’t done it yet.

    Why? The stats say so.

    However, the quickest way to achieve change might be to ignore all those nagging moral imperatives and look instead at cold, hard revenue.

    A 2018 McKinsey and Company report found that firms whose executive teams were in the top quartile of gender diversity were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability with the number increasing to 33% when the executive team is in the top quartile for ethnic diversity.

    One of the main theories to why this is the case is that a diverse team leads to more diverse thinking and approaches., something especially valuable for strategic planning teams that need to consider multiple different consumer journeys.

    Conflict is a good thing

    The basics of good teamwork has been best illustrated by Patrick Lencioni in his book ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ which is a series of steps that a team must overcome in order to drive good results.

    Diversity plays a role in the ‘fear of conflict’ which is when teams feel free to discuss their own opinions and thoughts on a topic. A more diverse team leads to more diverse thought and ‘conflict’ and avoid groupthink when approaching challenges and strategies.

    Pyramid stack  diagram from bottom to top : Absence of trust.  Fear of conflict.  Lack of commitment. Avoidance of accountability. Inattention to results.

    However, a diverse team will only feel comfortable raising these views if they have trust in the team that it won’t be met with criticism – there is a reason why ‘Absence of Trust’ is Lencioni’s base of the pyramid. It highlights the importance that it is not good enough to just have diverse teams and hope things will improve – there need to be a genuine culture of inclusion for the benefits of diversity to develop.

    Some things to consider:

    • Assign KPIs – ‘what gets measured, gets done’. If D&I is a key milestone for you, make sure to measure it effectively from recruitment to employee satisfaction surveys.
    • Look at where in your company’s diversity lies – Taking the workforce is useful but look at specific teams as different skill sets will have different biases.
    • Diversity is more than race and gender – think holistically about what diversity entails and especially where things intersect.
    • Focus on culture and retention – If you have a turnover rate is higher with certain groups then others, consider why that is.
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