Alvaro Carcel Tribune
First the pandemic, then the supply crisis and the increase in the price of energy and raw materials, and finally, the war in Ukraine, have accentuated uncertainty and have partially altered the strategic agendas of companies.
Aspects such as diversity, innovation, digitization, or sustainability, may have sometimes been left in the background, when the short-term objective has been to guarantee the survival of the company.
If we focus on managing diversity, where are we now?
According to the “Innodiversity Index 2021”, among the companies consulted, 38% already have established diversity policies.
They are not excellent numbers, but there are hopeful indicators. First of all, 80% of the companies consulted have paid special attention to the management of gender diversity during the pandemic. According to the same study, 60% have taken action and say they have recently allocated more resources to managing diversity.
And we are not just talking about gender diversity policies, but also policies on matters of age or disability. The interest of companies in senior talent has increased by 6 points on average since 2019, and in the case of disability, the increase has been timid (1.3 points since 2019).
But… what about inclusion?
There is a lot of talk about diversity, but sometimes we forget about inclusion. Many companies make the mistake (sometimes with good intentions) of hiring women in largely male-dominated environments. Or to hire people of other nationalities or cultures to try to create a more international and diverse environment. But the problem does not lie in their hiring; it lies in making these people feel comfortable in the environment, since, otherwise, they will feel displaced and leave.
Not only that; Many times, companies will hire such people in lower-impact positions, so they also won't have the power to change the culture. And again, they will get frustrated, and they will leave.
And so, the problems multiply: little stability, less cohesive teams, high costs due to talent drain, widespread attrition, and a really critical issue: the values and culture of the company will be called into question.
For companies, it can be tempting to focus on diversity to achieve (only) better results, without a real will behind it. Makeup, and little substance. And this has a resultist explanation. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, companies with greater gender diversity in their management teams are 25% more likely to achieve above-average profitability; and if the diversity is ethnic and cultural, the probabilities climb to 36%.
So where should companies start?
There are many fronts to take into account when advancing in terms of diversity and inclusion. A good starting point is the "Diversity Charter", a letter of principles that companies sign on a voluntary basis to make their commitment to 10 basic principles regarding diversity and inclusion visible.
And who should lead it?
Everyone. From the first employee to the last. But let's not fool ourselves. It is necessary for the commitment to cascade down from the General Management and the entire management team. And for this, daring (and activist) leaders are needed, but also pragmatic and credible.
Or with what credibility can an organization whose Management Committee is made up of profiles cut from the same pattern be able to speak of diversity and inclusion?