Promoting diversity and inclusion (D&I) is not a one-off initiative. While much attention has been focused on the numbers and statistics behind creating a diverse workforce, we need to shift our focus from simply having it, to leveraging it.
To do this, we need to appreciate that diversity is not just a moral imperative. It's also a competitive advantage – one that positions a business, team or career apart from their counterparts.
As we continue to operate in such rapidly changing times, never has the development of talent and fostering of diversity been more vital to organisational success. Most of us understand that diversity stretches beyond gender, race and age. But we still require a collective focus to recognise the benefits of diverse thinkers who bring a variety of experience, style and insight.
Many recruitment strategies and internal promotions still only recognise employees with backgrounds in certain roles, companies or localities. Not only are innovation and opportunity jeopardised, but there is also a huge risk of siloed thinking and operational bias emerging or being perpetuated.
Rarely is D&I considered straightforward; in fact,it is often regarded as downright messy. But there are strategies that a business leader can adopt to help embed it into their organisational culture and way of working. While mobility programs have long been used as a tool to expand global business footprints and develop high-potential leaders, these programs can also be used to build a diverse and inclusive workforce domestically and at all levels of an organisation.
Why invest in a mobility program?
Mobility allows for different perspectives, experiences and insights to be shared, valued and leveraged across an organisation. When we get people and information moving we open minds to new ways of working and thinking. With open minds, individuals and organisations stand to reap the benefits of novel thinking, ingenuity and unique insights.
Not only are new opportunities likely to emerge but the approach to problem-solving is greatly enhanced, with different perspectives embraced and a more inclusive approach adopted. With productivity, efficiency, collaboration and engagement also heightened, the impact is seen in both culture and bottom line results.
While mobility has long been considered a valuable tool for expanding geographical reach and developing global insights and diversity of thinking, it has often been overlooked at a domestic level. Yet opportunities to work in a different part of an organisation not only help individuals diversify their own skill set it also helps cross-pollinate ideas, relationships and perspectives across the organisation.
It provides insights into different agendas, challenges and client relationships, while building broader and more holistic organisational viewpoints. Typically, with these opportunities come greater understanding, tolerance and commitment.
5 Tips for building diversity through mobility:
Diversity and inclusion needs to be prioritised, advocated for and clearly visible at all levels of the organisation. A unified approach from leadership is required if we are to ensure that it is adopted throughout the organisation.
Develop a culture of career mobility
When employees feel empowered, encouraged and expected to consider lateral moves as well as vertical moves, they are more likely to do so. Ensure individuals and leaders understand the mutual benefits to be derived.
Make opportunities visible and movement easy
Too often, opportunities are lost through clunky processes, poor communication, lack of support and time delays. Invest in timely conversations, robust technology platforms and processes that facilitate movement. Easy adoption is critical to creating momentum and value.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
As people navigate from the unknown to the known, clear, pragmatic and timely communication is critical to help build trust and speed in the journey.
To promote the value, we need to learn how to demonstrate and showcase it. When we can tell stories that link measured increases in business results, customer engagement and individual career growth we are more likely to see sustained benefits.