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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

How Can Your Business Embrace Diversity and Inclusion as Part of Your Sustainability Commitment?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

According to the 2011 Census, one in four Australians was born overseas.

Australia is an incredibly diverse country with people coming from different cultural background, speaking different languages, following different religions, identifying as different genders and experiencing different physical and mental boundaries.

By including people of varying backgrounds in your business, not only will you be showing your commitment to reducing inequalities and promoting tolerance, thus taking another step on your journey towards social sustainability, but you will also be providing your business with some fantastic benefits.

At Strategic Sustainability Consultants, when we talk about diversity, we talk about people of different ages, genders, physical and mental abilities and disabilities, races, ethnicities, origins, languages, religions, socio-economic backgrounds and sexual orientations.

By ensuring the staff on your team reflect a diverse range of people from a diverse range of backgrounds, you will have a well-developed perspective on what consumers from a variety of background want and expect from your business. There are certain perspectives and opinions that only someone from a certain demographic can bring to your business. For example, by hiring someone from a particular cultural background who understands business in their country particularly well, you will be positioning yourself well to explore entering that country's market.

According to a study conducted by PwC, 85% of CEOs surveyed in their 18th Annual Global CEO Survey responded that their formal diversity and inclusivity strategy improved their company's bottom line.

There are some companies in which you will see 5 generations of people working together: the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers, Gen X, the Millennials and the iGeneration. The ability to have members of a team work across such a diverse range of ages provides the benefits of being able to accommodate a broad range of consumer wants and needs. Those from earlier generations are able to provide the wisdom of business and the insight into what their peers want as consumers. Those from later generations can provide insight into new technologies and methods of communication of which those from earlier generations may not be aware.

By creating a team of staff from different backgrounds, your business could see increased productivity, creativity and problem-solving from the combination of so many brilliant minds working together to create ideas and solutions for your business.

When creating your diversity and inclusion plan, it is important you follow a few simple rules.

1. Have a goal in mind

It is important you don't just write a diversity and inclusion plan just to have a diversity and inclusion plan. You need to have a specific goal for your business. Maybe you want to expand your consumer base. Maybe you want to reach into foreign markets. Like any plan in business, your diversity and inclusion plan needs to have a goal and an end result.

2. Make your diversity and inclusion plan central to your business

As with all sustainability commitments, documents and plans, this cannot just be a checkbox in your company. Your diversity and inclusion plan needs to be at the heart and soul of your values as a company.

3. Do not expect your business to become a blueprint for globalisation

People from different cultural backgrounds, different ages and different sexual orientations are always going to think differently to one another. You are not going to have everyone seeing eye-to-eye on every decision. That is the benefit of a diverse workforce - to bring in different perspectives. You need to be prepared that having a younger female employee team up with an older male employee on a project means that they will come to the table with different ideas and different solutions. This might mean that one project will eventually need to have two strands to cater to two different types of consumers based on the perspectives of the two employees involved. This is actually incredibly beneficial to your business because the core idea will remain constant, but your business may have a couple of marketing strategies to target different demographics.

4. Remember your staff are not just a means to an end

Sometimes it is very easy to get caught up in the idea of having a diverse team that you forget that staff aren't just there to fill quotas - you still need to hire the best people for the job. If you believe that out of 15 candidates, 9 of whom may fill your diversity quota, one of the six others is the best person for the job and will bring the most to your business, you need to hire that one person. Your business must continue to be economically sustainable into the future. By hiring the right person for your business, you may be able to grow your business to eventually find it easier to fill diversity quotas as your business grows and develops.

To get started on your own unique diversity and inclusion plan for your business, contact us today!

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.


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