Embracing DEI principles can contribute to a more just, equitable, and prosperous society, writes Nelly Mohale, head of human capital at Decusatio.
The recent amendments to the Employment Equity Amendment Bill of 2020, which aims to encourage a more diverse and equitable workforce, have brought about many questions in the HR community about the relevance and practicality of it all. The amended bill, signed in April 2023, is mandating that businesses create transformation plans in order to progress the transformation of South Africa’s workforce. It also establishes equitable goals for various economic sectors and geographic areas.
In addition to being the right thing to do, here are four reasons why diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) matter in the workplace:
Attracting a diverse workforce of top talent will improve customer experience
Glassdoor for Employers research found that 67 percent of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities, and more than 50 percent of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity. An organisation’s reputation for supporting DEI therefore largely contributes to attracting top talent.
Attracting a diverse team of top talent also translates to an enhanced customer experience. A diverse workforce enables the organisation to interact with a wider range of consumers, comprehend their requirements, and provide solutions that are inclusive and representative of many viewpoints. In the contemporary global marketplace, where customers demand to be seen and understood, this connection is particularly crucial.
Sustainable competitive advantage relies on evolving creativity.
In an article titled Why Diversity and Inclusion Has Become a Business Priority, Josh Bershin found that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative. People from different ages and origins who work together in teams offer a variety of experiences and perspectives to the workplace. When team members approach a problem or an idea from different points of view, their ideas can evolve more creatively than if all team members were exactly the same.
Ideas to solve problems can positively influence an organisation’s competitive advantage. When the organisation employs a diverse, inclusive workforce, where employees are encouraged to engage, more original ideas and improved problem-solving arise and that ultimately contributes to not only building but sustaining the organisation’s competitive advantage.
A diverse workforce is your secret weapon to access new markets
Accessing new markets with a diverse workforce is easier than without. Employees with specific backgrounds will have knowledge of the geographical, cultural, and dietary preferences of the new market and share experiences and knowledge on how to best interact within the new environment. By hiring people from diverse backgrounds, your organisation is better prepared to service clients from around the world.
A diverse workforce can advise the sales and marketing division on the most effective strategies for interacting with clients. Diverse knowledge and experiences of employees are assets that could positively contribute toward successfully accessing new markets when it is acknowledged accordingly.
An inclusive workplace increases employee engagement
The Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) and Deloitte joined forces to identify the issues impacting today’s diverse workforce. In The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence research report they found that 83 percent of millennials are actively engaged at work when they believe the culture of their organisation is inclusive.
Engaged employees are more committed to their work assignments and consistently give it their all. In team meetings, they are more inclined to voice their opinions, and they put forth more effort when serving customers. Engaged employees also promote their employer favourably in social circles as well as on social media, raising the profile of the business and attracting better quality applicants for new opportunities.
If you have not yet started developing DEI policies, don’t wait for the Bill to come into effect. The benefits to employing a diverse workforce are far more favourable than just adhering to legislation.