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Better diversity and inclusion outcomes

PRESS RELEASE: Create your blueprint for better diversity and inclusion outcomes in 2017

Achieving business success in an ever-changing economy is an ongoing challenge and forward-thinking leaders are constantly seeking strategies to gain a competitive advantage.

In 2017, a focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace will create the blueprint for better business outcomes for many of our organisations, says Diversity Works New Zealand Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.

A Deloitte two-year research study (Bersin by Deloitte 2015 High-Impact Talent Management) shows that companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers, she says. “Many Kiwi businesses are doing excellent work in this arena and harnessing the benefits such as increased productivity, the opportunity to tap into new markets and greater access to top talent in their workforce.”

But there is still work to be done if organisations are going to affect real change in terms of creating an inclusive culture and reaping the rewards that brings, Cassidy-Mackenzie says. Here are some resolutions Diversity Works New Zealand believes businesses could adopt this year to lay down a foundation for success.

We will prepare for our aging workforce

Government figures predict that by 2020, a quarter of the New Zealand workforce will be aged 55 or older, and these older workers offer a solution to the skills and labour shortage many industry sectors are facing.

But to retain this valuable resource, organisations need to engage with their older workers to discuss their needs. Diversity Works 2015 research indicated that older workers wanted employers to recognise that their requirements around flexibility in the workplace differed from their younger colleagues. It also showed they wanted access to ongoing training and professional development, to have their skills and experience acknowledged and respected, and the opportunity to mentor and interact with younger workers.

Retirement planning advice, health programmes and job design are other strategies organisations can put in place to support older workers.

We will work to mitigate the impact of unconscious bias on our organisation

Unconscious biases can prevent individuals from making objective decisions. They can cause employees to overlook great ideas, ignore an individual’s potential, and create a less-than-ideal work experience for their colleagues. Biases can impact every facet of a business, from recruiting staff, to leadership effectiveness, communication, decision making and workplace interactions.

The good news is that awareness of this issue is a mitigating strategy in itself, bringing changes in the way people think and act, so well-designed training sessions for staff that focus on processes organisations can put in place to support behavioural change are a great place to start.

We will address gender imbalance at every level of the organisation

Many organisations are scrambling to get more women in their executive and senior management teams. This is a worthy goal but without also ensuring that young women in the organisation get the support they need to develop their career, the talent pipeline will continue to be male-dominated, and achieving gender diversity at all levels will remain a challenge.

Strategies that allow organisations to address this issue at every level include reviewing gender representation across all levels and functions, and developing a plan to address disparities, developing key pay equity indicators and a plan to address inequities, reviewing and updating parental leave policies and procedures, and developing the talent pipeline through initiatives such as targeted mentoring and leadership programmes.

We will embrace flexible work practices for our staff

The business benefits of flexible working are well-documented – research shows that organisations that offer these practices are perceived as more attractive employers, increasing their available talent pool, and report improved productivity and focus, and higher levels of staff loyalty and commitment.

Initiatives to consider include allowing employees to choose their start and finish times, reduced hours, work-from-home days or remote working, working longer days during busy periods and shorter days in off-peak times, or job sharing or job splitting.

We will have courageous conversations about diversity in our workplace

Diversity provides many business advantages such as bringing new ideas to the workplace, the opportunity to reach out to new markets and a workforce that is better able to connect with clients and customers.

But it can also provide challenges in the workplace, and training, delivered through a robust framework, can help people understand their own cultural norms and how these impact everyday interactions, specifically those in the workplace. This will improve cultural competency within your organisation.

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