The rapidly expanding global economy has prompted the growth of work teams comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds with different values, experiences, perspectives, knowledge, and skills. Greater diversity in the workforce can positively impact organizational outcomes, including performance. Understanding the advantages of workforce diversity helps you establish an organization with a competitive edge. But companies can only fully leverage the power of their diverse employees by creating comprehensive, thoughtful and fully integrated diversity and inclusion initiatives that encourage engagement and align with the ultimate goals of the business. Creating an environment where inclusion is the expectation and people feel welcome, safe and able to contribute fully will result in heightened innovation, increased productivity and greater organizational effectiveness.
The business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace is clear, compelling and proven. Numerous studies and empirical research illustrate the benefits and impact of well-designed and well-managed diversity and inclusion strategy on workforce development, workplace enrichment and marketplace impact. For example, a Harvard Business School study found that multicultural networks encourage creativity, while a Forbes Study identified workforce diversity and inclusion as a key driver of innovation and business growth. Developing not just the intellectual tools, but the emotional intelligence necessary to build trust and respect in a multi-cultural workplace is a complex and constantly evolving process, but success can bring substantial individual and institutional rewards. According to McKinsey, companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity and a study conducted by Lu Hong and Scott Page showed that groups of diverse problem solvers will outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.
Stephen Covey famously said “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” At Sodexo, we have spent the last decade investing in, monitoring and measuring the results and impact of our diversity and inclusion programs on our workforce, workplace and marketplace strategies. Some of these leading edge practices include the integration of diversity and inclusion knowledge, practices and competency in corporate real estate programs and investments, reflecting an understanding of and sensitivity to the different needs and expectations of an increasingly multicultural, multi-generational, diverse workplace. This heightened competency and skill manifests as an all-inclusive workplace that recognizes the variability in employee needs, preferences and values with regard to managing their work and non-work roles.
Diversity and inclusion is more than a strategy or an initiative, it is an organizational mindset that must be reinforced every single day. Ultimately, organizations that place their employees’ quality of life at the center of their thinking and pursue inclusive strategies to support and encourage it create a more engaged, committed and productive workforce.
How does your company integrate diversity & inclusion practices to improve employee performance in the workplace?
Rolddy Leyva is Vice President of Global Diversity for Sodexo. Recently he was invited to present the business case for diversity and inclusion and its impact on the workplace and employee experience at the CoreNet 2015 Global Summit, the world’s leading association for corporate real estate and workplace professionals.
Highlights of Sodexo’s Diversity & Inclusion Strategy
- Representation of women has increased by 23% and total minority representation has increased by 14% since the beginning of Sodexo’s D&I journey.
- At 83%, Diversity & Inclusion had the highest positive perception among all engagement drivers in the 2014 Employee Engagement Survey at Sodexo.
- Between 2012 and 2014, 57% of gender balanced (40% – 60% women) management teams for Sodexo worldwide have seen an increase in their client retention rates compared to 45% for others.