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Typically, when we consider diversity at the C-suite level, we think about numbers. We think about the number of women, or persons of colour. This is perhaps particularly prevalent in industries such as engineering and manufacturing which are traditionally dominated by white males. It makes sense that in our bid to challenge this status quo, we have looked at diversity in terms of representation and numbers.
However, for us to actually realise the benefits of diversity, we need to focus intently on inclusivity. Here we explain what this means in practice and why it is of utmost importance to C-suite dynamics in engineering and manufacturing. This in turn will help you to understand how it can be more effectively realised through procurement practices.
Diversity isn’t simply about ticking boxes and doing things correctly in a legal way. The data shows us that diversity at Board and C-suite level actually fuels success and innovation. For example, organisations which are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely to outperform others as well as 35% more like to have better financial success than others within their industry.
Central to this is our understanding of the difference between inclusion and diversity.
Diversity is about acknowledging the difference in order to achieve representation, at the highest levels of the organisation, of the society we work in. Hence the numbers pertaining to sex, race, religion, age and more. It’s our response to the amusing but shocking statistic that there are more CEOs named David than there are CEOs who are women.
Inclusivity on the other hand is about action. It’s what we do to realise the benefits of achieving diversity at the board level. The benefits of diversity do not happen unless we adopt actions, processes, systems, methodology and culture to make it a reality.
Given that the statistics regarding inclusivity are even more powerful than those above for diversity, we need to be highly aware of this at the C-suite level. One Gartner study demonstrates that organisations which are highly inclusive are 120% more likely to meet financial targets, whilst simultaneously generating over double the amount of cash flow per employee.
Inclusivity doesn’t just happen because we manage to tick the boxes of diversity through strategic procurement and talent development. It is concerted action which is perhaps particularly important when it comes to an organisation’s ability to retain their diverse talent at the highest levels.
At Stanton Keller, we know that it is easy to misunderstand and overlook inclusion. This largely comes about because it is much harder to measure and quantify than straightforward diversity alone. It goes beyond a mathematical analysis. Inclusion is much more about the harder to quantify emotions of leadership and interaction.
However, there are tools being developed to measure inclusion. One such example is the use of anonymous quantitative surveys by the Center for Talent Innovation, as reported in the Harvard Business Review.
Central to the concept of using inclusivity to power an optimally performing C-suite is our understanding of the concerns, issues and barriers to entry faced by minority groups in our industries. These of course vary, but a good example of this is imposter syndrome in women.
When we understand, at the highest levels of our industry and recruitment and development practices, that imposter syndrome can be what is preventing women from feeling equal to men, we begin to understand the barriers with a view to lowering them.
The way to overcome such things is to develop inclusive strategies so that we consciously tackle the issues faced by those who are the targets of our diversity and inclusivity approach.
There are a number of different methods we can take to practice inclusivity across the whole organisation, as well as within the C-suite or with our highest level talent. Some examples are:
What is fascinating is that there is inequality in our attempts at, and success with, diversity and inclusivity. Another insightful McKinsey report reveals that “racial and ethnic diversity has a stronger impact on financial performance than gender diversity, perhaps because earlier efforts to increase women’s representation in the top levels of business have already yielded positive results.”
So, we need to embrace diversity across its full scope at the board level and throughout the organisation. In this way, non-homogenous C-suites are our way of ensuring we maximise productivity and success because it encourages agile thinking and different approaches.
As industries, engineering and manufacturing have a long way to go. However, it’s worth putting in the effort to create a diverse and inclusive C-suite. It will give your business the edge and positively impact your bottom line.
The easiest tack to take is to choose a procurement partner which is skilled at acquiring the optimal talent for you, in line with your culture, whilst also realising the benefits of diversity and inclusion. At Stanton Keller, we look forward to working with you to develop diversity and inclusivity in your C-Suite and Board.