Many of us, if not most, have grown accustomed to hearing that there is unity in diversity. In terms of unity, truly, no man is an island, and this adage is true in the workplace. We can only achieve so much on our own and we will always need help and support from our mentors and colleagues. As for diversity, statistics also show that there is beauty and resilience in embracing inclusion and diversity.
But what does it truly mean to bank on unity in diversity? By itself, the phrase seems contradictory. Unity means “oneness” while diversity refers to the state or quality of being different. But when taken in the context of work culture and corporate management, diversity means inclusion of all regardless of background and even gender. And when a culture of diversity is prioritized, unity blooms in the form of shared, collective goals which are geared towards the growth of the organization.
Before delving into finding out how to embrace unity and, at the same time, diversity, it is vital to first know what true unity and diversity means, at least when it is used in the workplace.
Diversity and inclusion was not as hot a topic several years back. But today, it is considered a top driver of business growth. A Forbes article described it as more than a strategy but an integral tool for the growth of any business. Many companies have begun scaling up their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, or policies which aim to make employees of different socio-economic backgrounds, gender, and ethnicity among other differences feel accepted and empowered, to fuel growth. And rightfully so. Business funding matchmaker Fundera cites that racially and ethnically diverse firms are “35% more likely to perform better” than their competitors and that diverse teams are “87% better when it comes to decision-making”.
Beauty, strength in diversity and inclusion
Aside from boosting staff productivity, another benefit of embedding diversity and inclusion in company culture and policy is that it improves the brand image of a business and these companies are more likely to win the war for talent, at least when lined up against their competitors. And when it comes to pushing for gender parity, efforts for the promotion of diversity and inclusion are vital.
Results of Grant Thornton’s 2023 Women in Business (WIB) Report show that progress in increasing the number of women in senior management roles is concerningly slow, and there must be intentional action from businesses to push for gender equality, and diversity and inclusion too.
Intentional action is just the tip of the iceberg. To harness the strength that lies beneath unity in diversity and inclusion, increasing diversity at the senior level is the right thing to do as it has been seen as a proven driver of performance, and so is offering flexible work arrangements.
Coming from the pandemic, we have realized that there are many benefits to working remotely. As pointed out in one McKinsey research, hybrid work, with the flexibility it offers, ensures that employees juggle work and personal goals better and bring about positive impacts on DEI initiatives.
The WIB report also cites that in businesses adopting a hybrid model, there is a higher number (34%) of women in senior management. With companies that offer purely remote working, it is even higher (36%).
Employee well-being and mentoring programs, which support women into senior leadership and those that embrace diversity and inclusion for example, are crucial, and there is a need to be transparent with what company goals are to sustain these initiatives.
As with all company-led initiatives, tracking progress, gathering and interpreting data on the policies’ impact, and using all these information to improve existing company plans are key.
As highlighted in one Harvard Business Review article, to measure progress in advocating inclusion, fair treatment, support and promotion of employee well-being, and manner of integrating differences are just some of the many metrics that can be formed out of interviews and surveys of staff.
There is indeed beauty that lies beneath unity in diversity, and in advocating for inclusion regardless of gender, socio-economic background, and other differences. Like all noble causes, forging paths to reach this goal can be challenging. But like many things too, it is not impossible to achieve. Fully embracing inclusion and diversity should be included in every company’s work model as another step towards shaping a vibrant tomorrow for all.
As published in The Manila Times, dated 12 April 2022