Article

ESG

How to make #Each­ForE­qual more than a hashtag

March 5, 2020

Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day has become a fix­ture in our cal­en­dar at Renoir as it cel­e­brates one of our core val­ues – equal oppor­tu­ni­ty for all. Like our clients, who are oper­at­ing in an increas­ing­ly glob­alised mar­ket, busi­ness­es must seek to reflect that diver­si­ty (be it gen­der, race, age, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, etc) in its oper­a­tions, if it aspires to con­tin­u­al­ly inno­vate and grow.

The ben­e­fits for it are also clear  – diver­si­ty in all forms is vital for com­pa­nies to thrive as diver­si­ty of thought is nec­es­sary to get a broad range of views and opin­ions which allows a com­pa­ny to con­sid­er the widest pos­si­ble alter­na­tives and ideas. With­out that diver­si­ty of peo­ple around the table, diver­gent views and oppor­tu­ni­ties to stay ahead of the curve are like­ly to be left out.

But beyond the organisation’s abil­i­ty to “think” bet­ter, one has to also con­sid­er broad­er shifts in the bat­tle for tal­ent and investors.

Work­force atti­tudes and behav­iors are shift­ing with the emerg­ing pres­ence of mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z advanc­ing through organ­i­sa­tions. Our obser­va­tions point to the fact that the most tal­ent­ed of these indi­vid­u­als go to places with diver­si­ty. Even when view­ing it from an investor’s per­spec­tive, an inclu­sive approach to hir­ing is also a sig­nal that the firm is apply­ing best prac­tices and that it is well-run.

To share their thoughts on the top­ic of gen­der diver­si­ty and espe­cial­ly on the suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion of gen­der diver­si­ty in organ­i­sa­tions, we talked to our col­leagues at Renoir Con­sult­ing — Mar­tyn Web­ber, CEO, South East Asia and Yen Nguyen, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Philip­pines. (Editor’s note: The chal­lenges and prin­ci­ples that we’ll be cov­er­ing below, could apply to any diver­si­ty initiative)

“IT’S GOING TO BE A LONG JOURNEY…”

The World Eco­nom­ic Forum’s Glob­al Gen­der Gap Report 2020 bench­marks 153 coun­tries on their progress towards gen­der par­i­ty in four dimen­sions: Eco­nom­ic Par­tic­i­pa­tion and Oppor­tu­ni­ty, Edu­ca­tion­al Attain­ment, Health and Sur­vival and Polit­i­cal Empow­er­ment. In its lat­est instal­ment, it made the sober­ing con­clu­sion that gen­der par­i­ty will not be attained for 99.5 years.

Whilst the report cites pos­i­tive progress in the world of lead­er­ship, women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the wider labour mar­ket has stalled and finan­cial dis­par­i­ties are increasing.

DIVERSITY IS HARD TO IMPLEMENT

The hard truth is that diver­si­ty is not easy to imple­ment. It goes beyond espous­ing one’s belief in cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions and HR poli­cies; it requires top-down, sys­temic changes to the com­pa­ny cul­ture and its dai­ly way of work. As the effort and time required is often under-estimated, and sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the ini­tia­tive over-looked, it’s typ­i­cal­ly approached as a “side project.” By focus­ing only on the soft­er aspects of the change, large com­pa­nies espe­cial­ly fail to make mean­ing­ful change to more ingrained aspects of the com­pa­ny, such as its man­age­ment style, its struc­ture and how per­for­mance is mea­sured (and rewarded).

Because of that, Renoir’s expe­ri­ence has led it to approach gen­der diver­si­ty as a strate­gic out­come like any oth­er in busi­ness – it must be planned for, active­ly man­aged and communicated. 

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN IMPLEMENTING WORKPLACE DIVERSITY

1. Does your organ­i­sa­tion (and its peo­ple) tru­ly believe in the val­ue of diversity?

That con­vic­tion has to go beyond “I believe it’s the right thing to do.” One has to be per­son­al­ly con­vinced that diver­si­ty will con­tribute to the organisation’s performance.

A pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Busi­ness Review con­duct­ed research at 1,069 lead­ing firms across 35 coun­tries and 24 indus­tries and con­clud­ed that “beliefs about gen­der diver­si­ty cre­ate a self-fulfilling cycle. Coun­tries and indus­tries that view gen­der diver­si­ty as impor­tant cap­ture ben­e­fits from it. Those that don’t, don’t.”

The data sug­gests that for the val­ue of diver­si­ty to be realised, the organisation’s lead­er­ship and employ­ees have to them­selves be con­vinced of its con­tri­bu­tion (not just hear some rules about it). They can’t just see gen­der inclu­sion as an obligation.

2. Is top man­age­ment vis­i­bly involved?

Hav­ing done the above, this next part is a lot eas­i­er. Top man­age­ment has to be an active “spon­sor” of diver­si­ty ini­tia­tives. Senior lead­er­ship must be involved and vis­i­ble through­out. And to walk the talk, diver­si­ty needs to be first imple­ment­ed at the very top.

3. Have you includ­ed a diver­si­ty of peo­ple in design­ing for a more inclu­sive environment?

The most impor­tant facet of this plan­ning is to include a diver­si­ty of employ­ees (phys­i­cal­ly, cul­tur­al­ly, ide­o­log­i­cal­ly, func­tion­al­ly and across the organ­i­sa­tion­al hier­ar­chy) in set­ting the path. The focus here is less about edu­ca­tion but more about putting inclu­sion into action.

The diver­si­ty of per­spec­tives is key when con­sid­er­ing how the new way of work needs to accom­mo­date dif­fer­ing needs, ambi­tions and mis­sion part­ners. Get­ting this right helps to deliv­er on this one key ingre­di­ent in mak­ing diver­si­ty tru­ly work – psy­cho­log­i­cal safe­ty. Peo­ple only con­tribute unique ideas to the group when they feel com­fort­able enough to speak up and present a con­trar­i­an view.

By co-developing the path­ways for peo­ple to fol­low in fos­ter­ing a more gender-inclusive organ­i­sa­tion, it helps them to realise for them­selves where the oppor­tu­ni­ties may arise and where the chal­lenges might be.

4. Does your lead­er­ship devel­op­ment and suc­ces­sion plan fac­tor in for diversity?

One of the bright­est sig­nals to tal­ents, of the organisation’s con­vic­tion about the val­ue of diver­si­ty, lies in its lead­er­ship devel­op­ment and suc­ces­sion plans.

This is where organ­i­sa­tions need to take a long, hard look at its organ­i­sa­tion­al struc­ture and fore­cast its future needs, and strate­gi­cal­ly plan how a more diverse man­age­ment team can fuel its growth. This cas­cades to how indi­vid­ual per­for­mance is mea­sured and reward­ed, and iden­ti­fy­ing great per­form­ers and help­ing them to devel­op the skills and tools for advance­ment. The sup­port­ing ecosys­tem for devel­op­ing your future lead­ers would like­ly go beyond just train­ing and devel­op­ment, to include a holis­tic approach to pro­vide greater flex­i­bil­i­ty to fit work into their lives. This can include leave poli­cies, flex­i­ble work­ing arrange­ments and oth­er cus­tomised employ­ee benefits.

5. How is diver­si­ty inte­grat­ed with the busi­ness’ objec­tives and performance?

Mea­sur­ing out­comes is key. For any diver­si­ty ini­tia­tives to be sus­tain­able, it needs to be assigned with mea­sur­able objec­tives that are inte­grat­ed with the rest of the company’s strate­gic objec­tives and oper­a­tions. A robust per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion pro­gramme – even for diver­si­ty ini­tia­tives –  func­tions as an account­abil­i­ty mech­a­nism, and pro­gres­sive­ly estab­lish­es and val­i­dates the busi­ness case for diver­si­ty, inter­nal­ly and to key stakeholders.

Hav­ing cov­ered five key con­sid­er­a­tions above, if there were to be one key take­away from this arti­cle, it’s the fact that imple­ment­ing diver­si­ty with­in the organ­i­sa­tion won’t come from a one-size-fits-all approach – there is no sin­gu­lar path to inclu­siv­i­ty. Any suc­cess­ful cul­ture change requires first get­ting down into what makes the organ­i­sa­tion “zig”, before being able to iden­ti­fy how to make the organ­i­sa­tion “zag.” And that’s where change man­age­ment comes in.

Speak to us on how we can apply our exper­tise in change man­age­ment, from more than 25 years of results-based expe­ri­ence, to pre­pare your organ­i­sa­tion for its next phase of growth.

Share This Article

How We Can Help

Connect with us

Let us work with you to achieve exceptional results.

Share this article

Other articles

Busi­ness Transformation

Posts

18 August, 2021
The foun­da­tions of a future-ready finance function

Busi­ness Transformation

Posts

15 December, 2021
Should you be bench­mark­ing? Prob­a­bly not.

Busi­ness Transformation

Posts

30 July, 2021
Is your com­pa­ny cul­ture sab­o­tag­ing the organisation?

Posts

Oper­a­tional Excellence

Tam­ing organ­i­sa­tion­al chaos: From fire­fight­ing to ‘fire prevention’
21 Apr 2021

Posts

Imple­men­ta­tion

The answer to effec­tive change starts with these 5 questions
19 Jun 2019

Posts

Busi­ness Transformation

Change or be changed – which one will you choose?
31 Mar 2021