Power Equipment Australasia

DIVERSITY Leading Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives: Measuring the Value of Difference For many at the cold face of managing people, leading teams and small businesses, the practicality of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives can seem like an abstract exercise with a sceptical dose of “je ne sais quoi.” While the common English parlance usually defines this colloquialised term as something intensely indescribable that captures a distinguishing feature, the literal French translation of “I don’t know what” may be far more accurate. In the conceptual scheme of things, we tend to think about diversity as an idea limited to the differences that we can see including gender, colour, race, culture, ethnicity or disability. Difference can also be a slippery slope, often intangible, behaviourally subtle or even wildly nuanced comprised of sexual orientation, neurodiversity, age, religion or socioeconomic. Practically, however, if business analysts could measure the impact of DEI initiatives by defining the value of difference, wouldn’t people leaders want to know how to leverage and exploit this value? If companies could seize competitive advantage by acquiring talent across a diverse range of potential employees, surely talent acquisition managers would vigorously seek out and acquire this difference, right? What if incumbent employees viewed DEI initiatives as having high-value that underpinned their engagement, retention and commitment as an employer of choice, wouldn’t senior leaders invest in bolstering employee attractiveness? And finally, what if senior executives could realise greater cash flow, innovation and financial performance by deploying the value of difference in leadership teams, wouldn’t boards and shareholders demand executives expand the pool of differences? IT'S NOT A QUESTION OF IF, BUT A MEASURABLE APPROACH TO WHEN With such a huge cultural and commercial upside, why are DEI programs never initiated or when they are, prone to failure? For the very same reasons companies initiate DEI programs at the organisational fringe, they too often neglect to do the hard work at their business core. Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are much more than an exercise in marketing campaigns and social media prowess. Instead, DEI programs should focus on: defining shared purpose and investment; measuring data-driven change; auditing institutional systems, processes and practices; disrupting current and reimagining a future inclusive culture; and building diversity into the mechanics of decision making to accelerate performance and financial return. Here are five steps to measuring the value of difference. TAKE FIVE 1. Every journey starts with purpose, commitment and a budget While the rationale to initiate diversity, equity and inclusion programs may start with a directive from the Board, the “why” must live and breathe in the hearts and minds of the entire enterprise. But defining the why without investment and commitment commensurate to expected outcomes is unlikely to realise success. WebMD1 research noted that while eight-nine percent of employee respondents report their company has programs in place to support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B), sixtytwo percent of respondents do not believe their company is doing what it needs to do to be truly committed to creating a workplace that promotes DEI&B. 24 | POWER EQUIPMENT AUSTRALASIA | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2024