Diversity Really Does Matter!



Let’s start by defining what we mean:

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a term used to describe policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of diverse groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations.

Whilst we know intuitively that diversity matters. It is also increasingly clear that it makes sense in purely business terms. McKinsey has, for years, consistently published detailed research reports that find that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns.

It makes sense that organizations with strong DEI initiatives are more likely to have employees with increased job satisfaction, higher levels of trust, who are more engaged.

So, although the business case for diversityequity, and inclusion (DE&I) is stronger than ever, why has so many companies' progresses stalled in this key cultural, social and performance measure.

HR Research Institute gathered 367 responses from HR professionals across a wide range of industries for their 2022 report. 

The findings laid bare the extent of the problem that still exists:

  • Companies are struggling to mature their DE&I initiatives, with only 22% indicating they are in “expert” or “advanced” stages
  • Only 40% of companies offer DE&I-related learning and development opportunities to all employees
  • Just 45% say that their workforce reflects the demographics of today’s marketplace
  • Companies are missing the opportunity to offer benefits that appeal to a diverse workforce, with 18% offering only those benefits mandated by law
  • Just 30% of respondents say their businesses invest in understanding their pay equity gap to a high or extremely high degree

In the second of his series of articles looking into key topics that effect Human Capital generally and recruitment specifically Chris Nelson talks to Helen McGuire Co-Founder and CEO of Diversely and tries to provide answers to unlocking the obstacles that have prevented greater progress in this area.

By way of background Diversely io.is an award-winning global tech solution that reduces bias in hiring across five elements of diversity.


CN:  How can we move D&I initiatives from ‘policies’ to action? Related Blog: 
HM: The last few years have seen a reckoning for many companies. We are not just talking about the recent COVID-19 pandemic - industries have been publicly called out for their lack of diversity and workplace discrimination. So how can you move your D&I initiative from mere policies to action? 

First, define your mission. You must understand why D&I initiatives are critical to your company. Once you have a clear mission, which includes identifying areas of diversity that are lacking in your organization, you can set a diversity goal and work toward it with key areas of the business - usually across Talent Acquisition, D&I and HR.

Discover seven things that many businesses get wrong and how to correct them right here .

CN:  What is your best advice to get the entire company (top to bottom) to work for  more inclusive workplace?
HM: It has repeatedly been proven that a diverse workforce is a more productive one. But diversity is different from inclusivity. Inclusivity is the next step to successfully supporting and in turn attracting a more diverse workforce. 

Employee Resource Groups across key elements of diversity are a wonderful place to start, meaning those from all areas of the business get to have their say on an equal platform. Businesses like Barclays have been running this approach for years, growing and adding more ERGs as times and culture shifts and grows.

On a smaller scale, encouraging a 360-feedback culture of frequent check-ins to recognise and reward employee performance, as well as ‘reverse mentoring’ are all ways to help those across the workforce feel heard.

In terms of policies, giving people a say in how, when and where they work for example, or which public holidays are most applicable to them, and their culture is fantastic way to encourage discussion and cultural understanding. Here are a few more tips to help.


CN: What are the must haves in a company’s plan to hire more inclusively? 
HM: Creating an environment in which employees can be their true, authentic selves while also applying their unique strengths and capabilities to achieve business goals has proven to improve retention, attraction, and a company’s bottom line by up to 35% (McKinsey). 

To be more inclusive, starting at the very top of the funnel by reducing bias in the hiring process is a good first step. Understanding where you are to start with means you can understand how you are progressing, so tracking candidate data is also imperative. And taking human, unconscious biases out of the initial selection process for new employees means inclusivity permeates the whole hiring cycle. Looking at the candidate journey, where you are advertising roles and how and what you are assessing candidates on are all vital angles to understand.

Diversely explains some of the requirements in this piece


CN: What is Diversely and how are you filling the gaps regarding D&I? 
HM: Diversely is the only custom-built D&I tech platform that tracks across five elements of diversity and can operate anywhere, globally. In simple terms it helps companies take the bias out of sourcing to win diverse talent and understand diversity data to track improvements.

Diversely fills the gaps in D&I by understanding diversity through clear measurement, reducing bias in hiring processes and helping businesses build, measure, and keep a diverse pipeline of candidates. 

You can find out more about Diversely and how it works here.


CN: Why is language such an important aspect of inclusive hiring? 
HM: Language is a powerful tool for increasing workplace inclusion. When it comes to diversity, language can be a way for creating and maintaining inclusivity across differences. 

Promoting and modelling inclusive language that is free of biases or expressions that discriminate against groups of people based on race, gender, or socioeconomic status can help to create a culture in which everyone feels valued and respected. Making simple changes in the way you write and the language you use enables you to reach out to broader talent groups and attract more under-represented candidates, quickly and easily. Learn more about the language behind job ads in our blog post here


CN: Where have businesses been going wrong with D&I and how can they fix it? Related Blog:  
HM: It is all too easy to think that talking about D&I on a panel, sponsoring an event or quickly pulling together some training will ‘fix’ diversity issues within a business. But times have moved on and adding a sticking plaster to a broken model will not help a business turn its diversity around, keep diverse talent nor attract under-represented groups if the business itself does not embrace diversity top to bottom.

Training, events, and words are easily forgotten, it is proper, measurable action and progress that really counts.

D&I has seen an increase by over 60% as an industry in the last 18months, which means more people in roles that have budgets that need to be justified - a sense that D&I needs to deliver on the bottom line for a business.

It is vital that data, measurement, and ROI are now part of this growing space to demonstrate how, why, and where diversity is delivering - both as a fair process to candidates and a winning process for businesses.

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