In our previous post, I shared my experience about being a foreign woman navigating in the Belgian financial job market. In addition, we pointed out how Belgian companies could take a better advantage of the rich cultural diversity that exists in the country, in the context of recruitment. In this second part of our article, we would like to highlight the many benefits of achieving a diverse work environment, which go far beyond the fact that “it is the right thing to do”. Among these, we can list:

          1. To win the war for talent

As the war for talent increases, organizations have to be aware that even from the very beginning that diversity is important for most candidates. The results of StepStone’s survey shows that when applying for a job, 63% of the respondents said that they are more likely to apply for companies that publicly promote themselves as tolerant and diverse, 68% sustained that they were more likely to apply in companies that advertise equal opportunities for men and women and 81% stated that they would want a role in a truly diverse team or company (gender, age & ethnic background). Furthermore, diversity is a way to bring more talent into organizations: employing highly educated newcomers makes not only the applicant pool become bigger, but also increases the chances to find the right talent.

          2. To strengthen customer orientation

An increasingly diverse society means the customer base of most organizations will eventually also become more diverse. Societies need diverse talent, views and thinking that reflect the globalized society we live in. Moreover, this allows companies to easily penetrate new markets and expand.

          3. To improve decision-making innovation

Diverse teams improve the quality of decision making and stimulates innovation. They bring a greater variety of problem solving approaches, perspectives and ideas and intra-team dialogues become enriching and insightful, learning opportunities increase and teams are brought closer, developing a greater understanding for each other, and making prejudices disappear. Non-diverse teams are likely to apply a more uniform approach to problem-solving, which ultimately dampens creativity and limits the possible solutions the team will try.

People who are different from each other contribute with unique information and experience for each task. For example, in the technological industry, women and minorities, who tend to be more frequently victims of violence, harassment and discrimination, are more conscious about security matters than white, heterosexual males.

          4. To foster employee satisfaction

A Gallup survey found that 60% of the employees working for companies with a high level of diversity responded that they are engaged in their work. This results is strongly contrasting to the responses of employees working for companies with a low degree of diversity, where only 11% of the employees felt engaged. Moreover, firms with diverse boards are more likely to adopt programs that signal organizational support for employees and benevolence, and these programs foster more positive satisfaction levels.

          5. To enhance the company’s ESG performance

ESG criteria are becoming a guideline for all companies to adopt if they want to remain successful in the future (read our article on ESG criteria here). In particular, the social criteria addresses how a company can manage its relationships with its workforce, the societies in which it operates and the political environment. This includes topics such as consumer protection and product safety, but also labor relations, diversity, inclusion and respects for human rights. The S factor of the ESGs looks at how companies are operating within a broader, diverse society.

Many companies have focused strongly on the environmental factors, which are easier to report and quantify (i.e. carbon emissions, fossil fuel reserves, clean energy use), thus leaving Social and Governance factors somewhat behind. Companies can have a first mover advantage if they start paying attention to the social factor earlier on, as the world is coming to conclusions about the clear definitions and measurements for what constitutes a socially responsible company. The exact indicators are not yet here, but everyone knows where to steer to have a high level of governance and reputation management.

What are we doing at Ernest Partners in terms of diversity in the workplace?

Academics and experts suggest that the diversity mindset should be set up in a company from the very start. Research by Harvard indicated that timing is crucial and most of the times overlooked. At Ernest Partners, diversity is part of our DNA, as it is closely aligned to our values:

  • Durable, as we want to be a company that becomes stronger through time, we embrace the higher diversity and globalization and society and take this matter very seriously;
  • Collaborative, which implies that we value cooperation through different opinions, experiences and ideas and foster an environment in which diverse exchanges are produced; and
  • Adaptative, taking in the importance of diversity from the very beginning will allow us to navigate in a more agile way in an increasingly heterogeneous society.

We strongly encourage you to join us in beginning your journey to become a more diverse and inclusive organization, and what a better moment to start than just after Europe Diversity Month.

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