If you let it, inclusion and diversity can play a significant role in your organization, ultimately benefiting your business. Inclusion and diversity aren't new concepts; these great ideas have been globally adopted by companies both big and small.
Inclusion is a state of being valued, respected, and supported. It’s about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential. It goes beyond diversity to the conversation of Human Equity and valuing people regardless of their demographics.
Inclusive workplace environments put a high value on the contribution of individuals from all backgrounds and cultures. Inclusion can be reflected in company mission statements, values, and policies, allowing equal opportunity for career and skill progression. Inclusion also works to counter discrimination.
Similarly, supplier diversity ensures all companies, regardless of their size, geography, or workplace nationalities, have the same opportunities to compete for the supply of goods and services. Diverse businesses are those managed, owned, or who employ minority groups including Women, Persons with Disabilities, Members of Visible Minority, Aboriginal Persons, Mature Workers, Youth and those who are part of the LGBTQ community.
Adopting inclusion into your supply chain affects both the organization and the workforce behind it for the better.
Company Growth: It's not new news that corporations can become stagnant, running out of new ideas, techniques, or sources. If the same employees and departments are continuously being tapped into, creativity can become non-existent. Inclusion can be the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management, "55% of respondents say their organizations ‘strongly promote’ diversity and inclusion." Including diverse employees, those on the front lines of your business such as truck drivers or factory workers, in processes and decisions brings with it new information, ways of thinking, and skills - ultimately broadening your talent pool. That pesky problem that's been bugging you for months has now been solved thanks to under-utilized diverse employees and their amazing ideas. Inclusion can also aide in making your business more competitive in an ever increasingly diverse market.
Understanding Your Customer Base: If you have a diverse customer base, it would be beneficial to employ one as well. In doing so, organizations can mirror their customers and gain insights into their beliefs, preferences, and thought processes. Many companies hire employees from different backgrounds because they personally represent the tastes, sensibilities, and interests of a broad range of customer divisions. Overall, one would get a much clearer understanding of the individuals who buy company products or seek out their services and may adapt their supply chain to reflect this new understanding.
Companies with a diverse workforce are more adaptable, have greater innovation, and increased customer relations. Statistics show that:
Challenges of Adopting Inclusion in the Workplace
Adopting inclusion in your supply chain may present some internal struggles for your business, specifically for your corporate culture and employees. Corporate culture is successful in unifying employees to work towards a specific goal, having something as a top priority, or thinking a particular way. With an influx of diverse employees, a corporate culture must undergo fundamental changes. For these staff members to be successfully integrated into the company, a cultural shift must occur to help other employees become receptive to backgrounds and cultures. A new, inclusive corporate culture would also reduce staff turnover for the staff, as they would likely feel more comfortable and accepted in the workplace.
Employees may have a difficult time coping with diverse colleagues. Although different viewpoints can lead to great changes, they can also bring with them cultural conflict and barriers. These differences can be influenced by personal backgrounds, education levels, or psychological makeup. Clashing is to be expected; bringing together multiple groups requires work and careful thought. The leadership capability to manage staff is imperative in these circumstances. However, if an organization does it correctly, inclusion helps to ensure that employees from diverse backgrounds are able to contribute, remain with the company, and flourish.
Case Study: BC Hydro
BC Hydro is the main electricity distributor in the province of British Columbia. Their supply chain consists of generating power, transmitting it, and then distributing it to the BC population. In 2006, BC Hydro started taking inclusion and diversity seriously, creating a vision for the company. The next year, they established a ten year goal: to have a workforce fully representative of the BC labour market by 2017.
To reach that goal, the company developed many inclusion initiatives. They tailored their recruitment strategies to appeal to more culturally diverse professionals, including posting job in multicultural media and embedding diversity related questions into interviews. The company also delivers specialized cross-cultural workshops in cross-cultural communication, four generations in the workplace, and aboriginal awareness. In additional to these great initiatives, BC Hydro supports employee-run resource groups as well.
Have their diversity efforts paid off? Through surveys and other data collection methods, the company has been able to measure and analyze their diversity initiatives. BC Hydro has reported an overall increase in representation across all the equity groups that the organization measures. Results also show improved diversity in recruitment, retention, and skills progression. Finally, they are happy to report that their diversity has resulted in better decisions and more effective and resilient teams throughout the business (including their supply chain).
Inclusion and diversity are integral components of a healthy organization. They bring beneficial change and a greater understanding of cultures. While it may seem like a struggle at times, inclusion is a worthwhile policy to pursue.