Diversity Cropped

4 Ways SMEs Can Build Diversity Into Their Business

By now, the business case for diversity should be clear to all organisations, no matter what their size. McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report last year underpinned the fact that companies with a more diverse workforce perform better financially.

While the report looked primarily at gender and ethnic diversity, it suggested that other kinds of diversity – such as age, sexual orientation, global mind-set and cultural fluency – would further strengthen a competitive advantage for companies that are able to recruit, retain and promote a diverse workforce.

But achieving greater workplace diversity is not easy.

While many multinationals have several layers of staff working to embed diversity and inclusion initiatives deep into corporate culture (i.e. Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Diversity Employee Resource Group Leaders, HR Diversity Specialist, etc.), SMEs face much tighter budgets and limited resources.

Yet, diversity is just as important to develop for future growth and performance.

So how can SMEs get started on building diversity into business development practices? The following four steps are a good starting point.

1) Openly acknowledge the business case for diversity. Make sure company leaders fully understand (and voice!) that fostering diversity is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s global marketplace and increasingly diverse customer mix.

2) Develop a company-wide diversity & inclusion strategy. Include a mission and vision statement outlining why diversity is important to business performance and how the company positions itself.

3) Outline concrete steps to fulfill the company’s vision. Start simple, even if only one page at first. Include awareness-raising measures (internal training or campaigns aimed at explaining the business case for diversity) involvement opportunities (employees engaging as resource contacts to inform policy and practices on topics they champion) and operating procedures that further diversity (review recruitment procedures, ensuring diversity at all stages from where job ads are initially placed on to diverse interview panels).

4) Make steps measureable, and review progress quarterly. Share annual achievements (…or shortcomings) with all staff, everyone’s involvement and ideas to go even further.

While not a fail-safe roadmap to achieving greater diversity, undertaking these steps can help SMEs launch business practices towards a more diverse workforce. This in turn, will enable them to take full advantage of the opportunities that diversity and inclusion present – notably in terms of performance and customer engagement.

Discover strategic steps to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace by downloading a white paper here. View our full diversity & inclusion support services and see how we can help your business embed diversity into future business development practices.

Elizabeth Douet is a certified trainer, coach and digital consultant active in intercultural initiatives and platforms that connect people on a global scale.

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