Diversity, Inclusion, Productivity, Innovation

Diversity and inclusion are a hot topic these days, and like many hot topics they arouse passionate views from people with different perspectives. As with all the other topics we are addressing in the HCO project, our goal is to help our readers, who are leaders and managers, gain an understanding of what diversity and inclusion mean, why they matter, and how addressing them more effectively can help make your team and your organization more successful.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I for short) are complicated because they are part of much larger social issues and because they affect employees – and managers – as people, with all of our individual experiences, opinions, life circumstances, and concerns. Businesses and other organizations cannot ignore the fact that organizations are made up of individual humans operating within a larger social framework. If they are out of alignment with their context, organizations cannot succeed; the same is true if they are badly misaligned with the concerns and values of their employees. Ensuring this alignment is important. Ultimately, though, the primary indicator of success for organizations is whether they meet their goals – which, for businesses, are above all financial. In the best case, meeting these goals will align well with both the social macrocosm and the individual microcosm, too. This is why diversity and inclusion matter.

Substantial amounts of research by a range of authorities clearly indicate that organizations that lead in diversity and inclusion are more successful at meeting their profitability goals and other markers of success; laggards in these areas underperform.

The reason, ultimately, is quite simple: humans are diverse, in many, many ways, and organizations and managers that can make the most of this diversity (i.e., that are inclusive) are truly human-centered. Recognizing employees for who they are, listening to them, ensuring they feel respected and included, and making it easy for them to make their greatest contribution is the best possible way to help them actualize themselves and do their best work – in other words, to engage and motivate them. And employees who are motivated in these ways will value the managers and organizations with whom they work. The motivation created and reinforced diversity and inclusion supports individual employees and advances organizational goals. These effects create broader social benefits, as well.