Asking the HR community for help developing comprehensive solutions to a multidimensional problem

Achieving inclusion, diversity and performance all at once

Jorn Verweij
25 Jul 21

An original article by Decision Free Solutions

For the full article in PDF go here.

A New Approach To Achieve Inclusion, Diversity and Organisational Performance all at Once

— Asking the HR community for help developing comprehensive solutions to a multidimensional problem

Management summary

As a 2018 McKinsey report demonstrated again, lack of inclusion and diversity — in the workforce and in leadership-roles throughout the organisation — is correlated with lagging organisational performance. This observation has resulted in a range of measures, usually as part of HR-lead diversity programs, to improve diversity in the work force and in leadership teams.

This article argues that diversity is not a driver of performance, but goes hand in hand with it. It is what happens when expertise is utilised to overcome prevalent social biases. Diversity programs play an important role, but the challenge intersectionality poses can’t be overcome by setting targets. The problem is systemic.

Social biases enter organisations whenever choices are made which are not fully substantiated — e.g., through hierarchical decision making and as often found in rules, protocols, procedures, contracts, etc. Organisations can overcome these social biases by creating the conditions to optimally utilise expertise — where expertise has no colour, gender, religion, body-type, title, socio- economic background, accent, etc.

As such, lack of diversity is an organisational red flag — it indicates the organisation underutilises expertise. And this includes the expertise of the privileged as well: they may have been given the opportunity, but they, too, suffer from the frustration of lack of freedom, autonomy and trust.

The consequence of underutilising expertise is suboptimal organisational performance. The lack of diversity which goes hand in hand with it, signals to the outside world that the organisation is not an attractive employer for talents, and not an attractive partner for other organisations.

This article proposes a new pathway to both achieve greater organisational performance as well as inclusion and diversity. It solicits the expertise, energy and motivation of the HR community to develop and implement new measures to this extent. This article provides some pointers as to what some of these measures may look like.

Organisations who manage to optimally utilise available expertise are, by definition, human centric organisations. This article proposes that Human Resource departments are perfectly positioned to take on a much more pivotal and impactful role in organisations than “merely” managing the employee life cycle and administering employee benefits.

HR departments can be, and in the author’s view should be, drivers for organisational performance. It is the quickest road to do away with the grievances of racism and discrimination, and achieve inclusion and diversity instead.

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