October 31, 2016
Diversity and inclusion has many business benefits, but just having a strategy and an active program is not enough. Communicating about those efforts is just as critical. Find out why and also check out our tips for the most effective D&I communications.
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) continues to be both a priority and a challenge for corporate America. Despite the challenges, it’s hard to dispute the benefits of striving for more female and diverse leaders:
- 85% of companies with a formal D&I program show an improved bottom line (source)
- Businesses with diversity produce results that are 35% better than non-diverse businesses (source)
- Companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the fewest on ROIC by 26 percent (source)
While more and more companies are improving their D&I initiatives, many companies struggle with whether and how to communicate about D&I, both internally and externally, partly due to perceived risks in doing so. In fact, perhaps of all CSR topics, D&I is viewed as among the most difficult to talk about, given that it inherently requires conversations about gender and race. Talking about D&I also opens the company up for scrutiny of an area where progress is often slow and, sometimes, it may appear you’re taking two steps forward and one back.
However, there are also risks in not communicating about D&I. At its core, D&I is a talent issue – it’s really about ensuring access to opportunities for all your employees, regardless of race or gender. If only a small portion of your employees see themselves on your leadership team, you may be missing out on motivating and developing critical talent for the future. Precisely because progress can be slow, communicating about your efforts will help to demonstrate a serious commitment now, which may encourage and develop the young talent you need to help you fulfill your D&I mission.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you plan for and execute your D&I communications:
1. Have a strategy
It’s easier to tell a coherent story if your company has a clear understanding of why enhancing D&I is important as well as the steps it will take to ensure greater diversity.
2. Strive for your communications sweet spot
It’s important to communicate about your D&I efforts, but only when what you’re saying is backed up by action (greenwashing is still a concern in D&I reporting!). At the same time, remember to take credit for everything you’re doing (to avoid greenblushing).
3. Be authentic
Admit that it’s a journey and highlight all the efforts to ensure your company’s talent and leaders are diverse…and have a voice. You don’t have to have all the answers at this point, as long as your communications make it clear your strategy is evolving.
4. Consider setting goals
D&I goals signal a serious, public commitment to promoting more women and racially diverse employees into leadership roles. If you’re not quite ready for that step, internal goals can be effective as both an accountability tool for the company and a source of motivation for employees.
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