Last week Goldman Sachs made a momentous move by announcing that it will not take a company public unless there is at least one ‘diverse’ candidate on the board. In this case the push will be focused primarily on women, but by next year, Goldman Sachs will require companies to have two diverse board members.
The move towards greater diversity is of course the right thing to do and also the smart thing to do. It has been well documented that businesses that present a more diverse make up are more likely to have stronger financial returns. Indeed, David Soloman, Goldman Sachs’ CEO cited the performance of IPOs where there has been a woman on the board in the US has been significantly better than the IPOs where there wasn’t.
Many companies already recognise the need to improve their diversity and are actively recruiting with this in mind. But what is increasingly clear is that although recruitment can go a long way to improve the diverse make up of an organisation, companies must address their inclusion policy to ensure they are able to retain their diverse talent.
So how can a company improve inclusion? There are a number of measures to take, but what’s important is that every person in the organisation is engaged and on board with these ambitions, particularly the leadership team. If the framework is not in place to lead from the top and support inclusion throughout the business, then the company will struggle to retain its diversity.
Diversity and inclusion training can go a long way in helping promote positive behaviours throughout the workplace. Importantly, this must be compulsory and attended by all, to provide a firm grounding for everyone in the business. By involving the leadership in the training programme, it will signal the importance the company is placing on nurturing an inclusive environment.
Less easy to solve is the issue of unconscious bias. Everyone has it – but if you take steps to understand and intentionally address it you can help to minimise its impact. For business leaders, it is important they understand their own individual bias – as well as that of their organisation more generally. Use blind hiring techniques or ensure interview panels have a diverse make up to limit bias throughout recruitment, but also consider creating dedicated and representative groups to monitor and address bias across your workforce. Training programmes such as INvolve’s conscious inclusion programme can really help individuals to understand any bias they may have.
People of all backgrounds need to feel they are accepted and can celebrate their traditions if they want to – creating a working environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their culture will help improve retention. It must be supported by senior team members who should lead by example, actively learning about other cultures and beliefs so that everyone feels included.
Inclusive leadership development
It is imperative that leadership development programmes are available to all and that everyone is encouraged to pursue these opportunities, whether they are more formal management fast track schemes or one-to-one mentoring schemes. By helping nurture and grow talented individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures, leadership teams can help build a business that has solid foundations for the future.
Listen to employees
Taking time to stop and listen to employees will help to address any areas of concern when it comes to promoting an inclusive environment; after all an inclusive business is one where everyone feels valued. Through workshops and feedback sessions, and by having an open and honest approach to leadership, you can help promote a listening culture across the business.
Encouraging inclusion in the workplace is something that should be everyone’s responsibility. Indeed, what’s important here is that it has a leadership mandate and is placed at the centre of the business. If this isn’t taken seriously then it won’t promote the long-term success of the company.
How inclusive is your culture? Audeliss works closely with INvolve, a diversity and inclusion consultancy, to not only ensure a diverse recruitment strategy, but to help companies foster a culture where everyone feels included and valued, thereby helping them to retain diverse talent.