Looking through the external websites of some major corporates this week, three things struck me.
First, how few references there are to diversity and inclusion on corporate homepages. Even for those organisations avowing that diversity is ‘just the way we do business’, it’s surprising how many bury diversity and inclusion deep in their careers section, well away from anything to do with customers and clients.
Second, most organisations describe why they ‘do’ diversity and inclusion in exactly the same language, whatever the sector, and however differentiated the organisations may be in other respects. They make reference to ‘widening the talent pool’, to ‘helping people achieve their potential’, to ‘recruiting, retaining and developing people irrespective of difference’. It’s not that I’m unconvinced by these arguments for diversity – far from it. It’s just that such over-worked words suck from it all the passion and the excitement, and end up meaning very little.
Third, how few organisations dare to link their motivation for action on diversity and inclusion to anything to do with values and ethics. Anxious about accusations of social engineering, soft-minded liberalism and positive discrimination, organisations have been at pains to point out that their commitment to diversity is built on the business case, on competitive advantage and market differentiation. Yet whatever the commercial benefits, diversity and inclusion are – surely, at some level – still about fairness, and justice, and doing the ‘right’ thing.
So three suggestions for organisations wanting to communicate a heartfelt commitment on diversity and inclusion to prospective employees, clients, customers, shareholders and partners:
- Put a link to diversity and inclusion on your corporate homepage
- Ask employees why diversity matters to them, and use their words to bring it to life
- Link the reason for action to values, ethics and corporate governance as well as to the bottom line.