It hardly seems possible that nearly 1/5 of the way through the 21st Century we are still needing to set out why diversity and inclusion are essential in any business, but here we are. The latest report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) states “diversity and inclusion is rising up the agenda in many organisations. However the pace of progress towards realising equality of opportunity needs to accelerate.”
Here at vivoHR we often scratch our heads and wonder why the “business case” has to be so strongly pushed? Do we really need financial incentives and PR metrics to persuade us to do the right thing and treat everyone fairly? It would appear so. The moral argument of ‘doing the right thing’ is simply not enough for some businesses.
On reading the CIPD report, proving a business case in terms of financial data and performance outcomes is challenging.
Herein lies the problem.
The terms ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are so broad and cover such a wide spectrum of people, that whilst the existing research tends to focus on isolated ‘protected characteristics,’ it is difficult to draw consistent and useful conclusions about what factors have the greatest positive impact. Research rarely explores the fact that we can fit into many different groups with a variety of characteristics. I am not just female or white, I am both. At the same time I fit many other categories too – but the research is not broad enough to consider this.
In his report into the ethnic diversity of UK boards, Sir John Parker concludes that. ‘It is clear that the recent emphasis on gender diversity in the UK Boardroom has not benefited women of colour to the same extent as it has women who are not from ethnic minorities. The appointments made following the Davies Review, only a relatively small number of those Board positions went to coloured women.’ (Parker 2016, p21).
The CIPD instead champion a progressive position of identifying the business case in terms of human outcomes at individual, organisational and societal levels. They state. “We need to challenge the traditional notion of the ‘business case’ for diversity that focuses only on business, rather than human outcomes. There should not need to be a business case to treat individuals with dignity at work. Business leaders and people professionals have the opportunity to champion the case for diversity. Moving from narrow outcomes like financial returns, and highlight the benefits that diversity and inclusion can bring. Not least that it is simply the right thing to do.”
We applaud and cheer the CIPD loudly for this!
If you want to read the full report you can download it here.
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Sam Swinstead is a vivoHR Director and can be contacted at email@example.com
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