Diversity in Organisations and Risk Management Capability – Part 4

A common definition of diversity and inclusion is needed. Diversity means all the way people differ. Some of these differences we are born with and cannot change. Anything that makes people unique is part of this definition of diversity. Inclusion involves bringing together and harnessing these diverse forces and resources, in a way that is beneficial. Inclusion puts the concept and practice of diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect, and connection, where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed to create business value. Companies need both diversity and inclusion to be successful.

Many companies struggle and do not realize the full potential of diverse and inclusive boards, management, and the workforce at large. These companies might still be focused on numbers and lack a complete understanding of the business imperative. While diversity in companies is an increasingly growing and accepted virtue in business, the appreciation of it is not enough for business to thrive without an inclusive workplace where unique vantage points of diverse people are valued. Inclusion enhances an organisation’s ability to achieve better business results by engaging people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives through participatory decision making.

A company’s journey to become a diverse and inclusive organisation begins with a critical but simple inquiry; what action is my organisation taking to foster a diverse and inclusive work culture where the uniqueness of beliefs, backgrounds, talents, capabilities, and ways of living are welcomed and leveraged for learning and informing business decisions?

Diversity supports inclusion and should be practiced throughout all aspects of the organisation, even in developing the plan for working toward a more inclusive culture. Inclusive practices must be integrated into product development, communications, training and education, career and professional development, recruitment and retention and overall leadership, and management practices. Cross functional teams composed of men and women who are intergenerational, racially, and culturally diverse stimulate new thinking, which makes greater possibilities possible.

Companies struggle and the ability to innovate, adjust and compete is restricted because of the temptation to hire and retain only those who are like-minded and unable to challenge the status quo. This goes all the way to other company engagements such as suppliers, external auditors, and a myriad of consultants. Diversity and inclusion cannot be dispelled without a price to the company in terms of quality, efficiency, effectiveness, reputation, and goodwill. In order for a company to be resilient, diverse minds, brains, and skill set both intellectual and emotional are imperative. Value is only created and preserved through a consolidated team.

by Amani Mbuja Tuntufye ERMCP, CERG