Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEM) is quickly becoming a more common discussion topic among business leadership. This is for good reason--in addition to the ethical imperatives, growing evidence shows companies with diverse demographics have better business outcomes.
Innovation drives great products and services, and diverse teams are better positioned to welcome new ideas. Additionally, diversity in gender, ethnicity and age mitigate risk by virtue of perspective. There are also pressures and incentives from outside of the organization. A recent survey by communications firm Markstein found that 70% of consumers want to see some evidence that the brands they support are actively addressing social and environmental issues.
While more companies are talking about DM or DEM, it is common for many to focus only on diversity and put inclusion on the back-burner. A recent BCG study of more than 16,500 people worldwide revealed that, while 97% acknowledged their company had a diversity policy, only 25% felt they benefited from it personally. It is not enough to have a diverse workforce; employees must feel that their input is truly valued. As a result, training employees to confront and help dismantle systemic or institutional racism--which refers to the policies and practices that embed racial inequity and discrimination in an organization--can also be a powerful tool for improvement.
When employees feel they are treated equitably and are not forced to play defense against discriminatory behaviors large or small, they are better able to reach peak performance, engagement and work quality. Companies lose some of their best talent due to a lack of inclusion, and an exodus of employees risks the company's reputation and stability as...