Workforce diversity is no longer an HR-only priority. Building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce should now a top priority for stakeholder’s, with 43% percent of CEOs counting it as high on their list of challenges, mounting evidence confirms that diverse and inclusive organisations continue to outperform the competition.

Many businesses are now releasing statements and scorecards that detail their actions to diversify their workforces and while these are important first steps, their efforts can’t stop there. To cultivate a sense of belonging and create workplaces that are truly equitable, diversity initiatives must go hand-in-hand with inclusivity strategies.

One of the main things to understand when considering diversity is that it counts for very little without inclusion.

Without inclusion, diversity can result in a toxic culture. Your efforts could be perceived as tokenism, suggesting that your business is only hiring people from underrepresented groups to prevent criticism. Your workforce will feel out of place and unsupported if your diversity efforts aren’t paired with a focus on inclusivity.

Diverse perspectives, combined with an inclusive culture, drive better decision-making, stimulate innovation, increase organisational agility, and strengthen resilience to disruption.

Your team will be more likely to make the right calls at work, as evidenced by Korn Ferry Research that reveals employees at inclusive organisations are 87% more likely to make better decisions.

Employees will be empowered to do their best. Josh Bersin found that highly inclusive organisations generate 2.3x more cash flow per employee, 1.4x more revenue, and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets.

Bringing together people with different perspectives and empowering them to share their ideas will generate more breakthroughs. The same Korn Ferry research found that diverse and inclusive organisations are 70% more likely to capture new markets and 19% more likely to see higher innovation revenue.

The success of your business hinges on your people, and these days competition for talent is fiercer than ever. As many countries continue to become increasingly multicultural, it’s natural that more and more people are also listing diversity as a major factor in deciding where to work.

According to a PwC survey, 54% of women and 45% of men researched a company’s D&I policies before accepting an employment offer. Additionally, 61% of women and 48% of men also specifically considered the diversity of those same companies’ leadership teams. Unsurprisingly, those numbers shoot up even higher when speaking to minorities.

Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance,’ and belonging is dancing like no one’s watching. – Linkedin’s Global Recruiting Trends Report

Being able to prove that diversity is embedded in the grain of your business goes a long way to securing the best candidates, but once they’ve been recruited, it’s an inclusive company culture that allows you to retain them – which let’s be honest, is really the part that matters.

It’s the responsibility of every member of a busines to bring an inclusive culture to life, and while HR and leadership are often responsible for kickstarting that mindset, it’s the day-to-day managers who have the power to make belonging a reality for members of their team. 

While company diversity initiatives are great, it’s managers who authentically champion equity, build trust within their group, develop opportunities for advancement, and celebrate the value each employee’s differences bring to team objectives that make people want to stay.

And that’s huge – in terms of both optics and resources when you consider the cost of hiring and training a new employee is typically 20% or more of a person’s annual salary.

Inclusive workplaces create positive internal and external word of mouth for and from the people you’re looking to hire and develop. You gain the benefit of avoiding turnover, which in itself delivers a powerful message about your culture, all while affirming the truth that a good retention strategy is really the best recruitment strategy you can bring to the table.