Every traveller knows that workplace diversity enriches us. Parents recognize the same, as they discover their children’s diverse characteristics and traits in their everyday ‘journeys’ together. Those who have a sibling know the same to be true. Just like those who care for elderly parents, those who live in multi-ethnic societies or those who build relationships with those from a different generation.
But how can companies transform Diversity&Inclusion into an opportunity for growth?
That’s exactly what Lifeed asked participants of the recent workshop Do you know your company’s attitude towards D&I? Find out with HR Analytics organized as part of the 50th Aidp National Congress, the Italian association for human resources.
Setting quotas is not enough
Workplace diversity offers opportunities to enrich the company. But only if it’s managed. Otherwise, initiatives risk conflicting with each other rather than reaching their full potential. Teams only reap the value when they are aware of it. From this point of view, companies can’t react with setting quotas to work towards gender equality and a better work-life balance. Increased representation (such as employing more women or people from different ethnic backgrounds) doesn’t go far enough. Not when that’s the only part of the policy that changes, when D&I is treated like a passing trend. As Harvard Business Review notes, when something becomes trendy, we stop asking ourselves questions. We adopt more simplistic solutions and we stop searching for innovation. But D&I is so much more than that.
60% of managers interviewed in the Lifeed workshop said that workplace Diversity & Inclusion strategies are useful for attracting new talent. It helps teams to listen to different ideas and help employees feel welcome. But it’s also good for the brand’s reputation, social responsibility and for stimulating innovation. Often, managers are drawn towards hiring employees that share similarities with themselves. In the short term, similarity is the easiest route. But it’s only when we invest and work on our differences that we can see significant and “rich” cultural changes.
Skills need to be trained
To reach this point, we need training. All skills need to be trained, even transferable ones. When we don’t think we have those skills, we’re often searching for them in the wrong role.
Think about the numerous transitions that we go through throughout the course of our lives, just like the pandemic. Each one changes us, even if it’s over the course of a few short weeks. According to recent Lifeed research, we all go through a transition around every 14 months. Each one unleashes an explosion of energy and enriches our soft skills. In order to maximize those skills, we need to guide them. The things that characterize us as a partner, child or parent can also be applied across other roles in our lives, such as professional ones. That’s because we already have these characteristics, and we’re already using them in other areas of our lives.
But these characteristics need to be recognized, we need to be aware of them and adapt them to our professional context. It’s what we call transilience. When we come home from work, we don’t stop being a manager or teacher and flip into being mothers, fathers, children, siblings and friends. We are the same people, in our complexity and entirety: we just need to learn to transfer those characteristics from one role to another, from personal contexts to professional ones, and vice versa.
Diversity enriches organizations, but only if they can learn from it. The key word is ‘learning’. We need to learn about workplace diversity, without denying it or reducing it, to transform it into a richness for the company. Diversity needs to be seen, recognized, underlined and thought about. We don’t learn from the experience itself, we learn by reflecting on that experience.
Rethinking workplace diversity with People Analytics
Historically, HR has often taken a less analytic approach within companies. But when we use real data we can improve organizations through applying tangible insights. What’s more difficult is asking the right questions, ensuring that data analysis doesn’t limit the company or become counter productive. Starting with those questions, Lifeed People Analytics speaks to people in their entirety, not just as employees. It promotes self-narration, changing top-down pulse surveys for a continual data analysis. It’s about embracing a constant flow of insights rather than periodical points set by the company.
“Big data” is usually preferred by companies. Alongside this, Lifeed People Analytics also looks at subjective data, which can also be called “Small data”. If we imagine an iceberg, Big data represents the tip that pokes out of the water. But if we look below the surface, there’s a whole world of personal and professional characteristics, soft skills, aspirations, talents, identity dimensions, emotions and values. Productivity, engagement, corporate wellbeing and behaviors at work all stem from these aspects. It’s only when we become aware of this that we can truly value workplace Diversity as something that enriches our company, contributing to people’s wellbeing and the company’s success.
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