When asked, “What drives Innovation?” – diversity and Inclusion is named to be not just one but one of the most critical drivers. Leaders across the globe have acknowledged this. Frederic Roze, Chief Executive Officer of L’Oréal USA stated that “Diversity fosters creativity. We need to generate the best ideas from our people in all levels of the company and incorporate them into our business practices.”
Increasingly you will observe that the business case of any organization for diversity and inclusion is linked to the innovation strategy. Diversity brings together multiple perspectives, experiences and backgrounds that can help to generate new ideas, break the monotony, challenge tried-and-tested methods that may have over lived their time and lead to innovative products and practices. A diverse workforce can also determine that the organization’s products and solutions can cater to all clients and be respectful of their respective cultures. And for diversity to work its wonders, a culture of inclusion must thrive within the organization.
1. Diversity and Inclusion training for innovation must begin with training the leaders and champions on how to craft diversity goals and priorities. Everyone needs to work towards the larger goal and all policies and systems are aligned accordingly.
The leaders within each organization must collaborate to set diversity goals and priorities which must have a buy-in from all stakeholders. The emphasis on achieving short-term results will not result in innovation. For innovation risk-taking is important and therefore, implementing for long-term results is important. The diversity goals and priorities must emphasize on intentional inclusion within the organization and promote an environment of psychological safety for everyone to share and accept each other’s views.
2. The second step in this is to train the recruiters and managers to hire or retain diverse workforce. This would help them to work on their unconscious biases and stereotypes during the recruitment process that may hinder them to make accurate recruitment decisions. A practice like this attracts top talent.
Many organizations are implementing diversity and inclusion policies specifically as recruitment tools that may help in broadening the talent pool to recruit from. A diverse talented workforce makes better decisions and further ensure that innovation thrives within the organization.
3. The third step is to train leaders and champions on how to develop a mindset of inclusion within the organization. Just crafting the goal or hiring diverse workforce is not enough. An inclusion mindset will help to sustain all the initiatives taken.
This requires creating allies within the organization who are aware of the dimensions of diversity, the unconscious biases faced, rituals for inclusion and consequences of practicing diversity and inclusion. These allies would ensure that all policies and systems at the ground level are implemented. They would ensure that groups are collaborating and listening to everyone’s views. Ultimately, the allies would ensure that diversity and inclusion touch very aspect of the organization and that everyone contributes to the organization’s D&I.
Innovation is an outcome of diversity and inclusion. Conscious efforts and constant reiteration are needed to ensure that organizations achieve their innovation strategy by implementing their diversity and inclusion imperative.