In the first of a three-part series on diversity and inclusion, professor Amin Rajan, chief executive of CREATE, and Sharon Harris, UK head of diversity at Deutsche Bank, outline the results of a study of 500 employers' attitudes to workforce diversity
This is the first of three articles based on a new study, Harnessing Workforce Diversity to Raise the Bottom Line carried out by CREATE, an independent research centre. It is the first of its kind to assess the business impact of diversity and inclusion.
For the purposes of this research the definition of diversity covers personal identity defined by gender, ethnicity, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation. It also covers personal styles and approaches to work-related issues.
Inclusion is about engaging people to achieve their best. It is influenced by the way they are managed and by the environment in which they work.
In the past three years, managing diversity has come to the fore in our sample of organisations as a result of two factors: accelerating competition due to globalisation and restructuring due to the current recession in the world economy.
Accordingly, organisations have become increasingly diverse in three major respects: markets, business and workforce (see diagram right).
More open markets and greater competition have made customers more segmented, business cultures more hybrid, and operating environments more varied. The ensuing competition has fragmented the 'food chain' of key business processes, and promoted joint ventures, outsourcing and co-sourcing. And workforce diversity has ensured a widespread talent famine and favoured behavioural diversity expressed by work styles and personal aspirations.
Workforce diversity provides the essential underpinning of the other two. It is also viewed as important in its own right for three reasons:
- Market As one business leader observed, "If someone is doing business in the Far East but does not understand how their values are different, they're operating on a cricket field by football rules." This not only relates to doing business abroad, but also in the minority areas of the UK.
- Innovation A multi-cultural workforce translates into a richer variety of approaches to work-related problems and processes. Such approaches, in turn, are conducive to innovation that raises busin