How to be inclusive and lead through diversity

| 7 April 2020

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are paramount for employers in this digital age. Konica Minolta looks at what your organisation can do to be more inclusive and lead through diversity.

Organisations need to adapt fast to a new world of digital transformation.

By 2022, 80% of organisational skills will need to be reprioritised or revisited because of digital transformation, according to Gartner.

Leaders will also be under even greater pressure to perform and support their workforce in order to get the best out of them. That means fundamentally changing the way they operate and harnessing this new technology.

A large part of that evolution is driven by innovation, but in order for that to occur within your business, first of all, you need to have a range of people from different backgrounds and cultures who can think differently and offer different perspectives. To achieve this, you must develop a culture where difference is understood, valued and celebrated, everyone is included, and workers are encouraged to try new ways of doing things and not be afraid of making mistakes.

“Inclusion and diversity go much further than just equal opportunities,” said Lindsey Hayward, Head of TM and Business Partnering, HR Business Partners at Konica Minolta. “It’s about recognising people’s differences and the value they can bring to your organisation in terms of the different views they have to offer and ideas they come up with.”

Key benefits of inclusion and diversity

The benefits of diversity are multifold: having a wider talent pool to choose from, encouraging more creative thinking, innovation, and developing a better understanding of your customer’s needs. It also enhances the perception of your brand, drives performance, productivity and revenue, and improves employee engagement and experience.

This is supported by evidence from a recent Boston Consulting Group study which found that having a more diverse team increased revenues by 19% and businesses with staff from a good mix of ethnic backgrounds were 35% more likely to outperform their competitors []. 

A study by management consultancy EY and the Peterson Institute for International Economics has also revealed that a company made up for at least 30% female leaders had six percent better profit margins than those that didn’t.

Increased diversity and inclusion (D&I) can also bring benefits beyond the bottom line, such as recruitment and retention, by making your business more attractive to new recruits, with 65% of respondents to a Forbes survey citing recruitment of diverse employees as a D&I priority [].

How Konica Minolta is doing things differently

Here at Konica Minolta, we have put in place a talent management strategy for developing our employees, with a focus on inclusion and diversity. We have also established a designated inclusion and diversity programme aimed at eliminating gender inequality in the workplace and wider industry. Within the programme, a Women’s Network has been set up across the business to change perceptions, and educate, advise and ensure the development, promotion and recruitment of women within our company.

That’s particularly relevant in light of International Women’s Day earlier this month, acknowledging women’s achievements, raising awareness of bias, and empowering more females in the workplace to help them reach their full potential. Added to that, the European Commission recently announced a new Diversity and Inclusion Charter, requiring its management positions to be filled by at least 40% women by November 1, 2019 []. 

We also regularly review all of our job descriptions to identify and remove any gender bias in the language used, as well as putting a statement into all job advertisements about welcoming applications from women and underrepresented groups. Backing this up, we constantly look at our recruitment practices to assess unconscious bias and its effect on hiring.

Our company-wide flexible working policy, which centres on empowering staff with the technology to work however and wherever to fulfil their role, also provides greater flexibility to women with caring roles outside of work. Additionally, we work with local schools and colleges via external partnerships to promote careers in IT and manufacturing, and the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects for women.

Change for the better

As well as continuing to promote an inclusive culture, we provide diversity awareness training as part of our leadership programme and run regular internal events.

“If you carry on doing what you have always been doing as a business with the same people at the top who are making all the key decisions then, quite simply, you’re not going to survive in this new world of work,” sais Hayward. “The business case for inclusion and diversity is that technology is evolving at a phenomenal rate at the moment and if you don’t equip yourself with the right mix of staff in terms of diversity to use these tools to help shape your company then you are going to get left behind.”

But there’s still a long way to go, with women and ethnic minorities massively underrepresented in the boardroom and at senior management level. Then there are a host of technological, political, economic and social barriers to progression, including trying to change corporate cultures and the status quo.

In order to become a fully inclusive organisation, first, you need to include and recruit people from diverse backgrounds and then continue to foster that culture.

Next, you need to lead through diversity by ensuring that the key decision-makers at the top are a balance of people from different backgrounds, rather than diversity merely being a box-ticking exercise based on the number of diverse staff employed within your organisation. That, in turn, will encourage more people from different backgrounds to join your organisation because they can see the opportunity and the fact that major decisions are being made by people from the same background as them.

For an exciting and rewarding career in a dynamic, diverse and inclusive workplace, visit our career website.