A strategy that goes beyond basic hiring goals may achieve better results

Research indicates diversity and inclusion initiatives can produce numerous positive effects.

Having one of several types of diversity within an organization — diversity relating to gender, country of origin, career path or industry background — was found to correlate with increased innovation in a Boston Consulting Group and Technical University of Munich study.

A 2017 Centre for International Governance Innovation report found for every one percent increase in ethnocultural diversity, Canadian companies saw an average 0.5 percent growth in productivity.

Companies with successful diversity and inclusion programs may also find their initiatives enhance profitability. Businesses in the top quartile for racial and ethnic workplace diversity are 35 percent more likely to have higher returns than their national industry medians, according to McKinsey research.

However, for diversity and inclusion initiatives to truly be as effective as possible, companies need to do more than just form a committee or establish hiring targets.

In the past few years, a number of organizations have led innovative diversity and inclusion efforts that touched on operational aspects ranging from employee management to communication — such as:

Adopting an integrated diversity and inclusion strategy

Communications agency Porter Novelli was named the 2018 Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative award winner by the PR Council, which sponsors a series of awards commemorating diversity work in public relations, due, according to the council, to the agency’s cohesive approach to diversity and inclusion.

In a Public Relations Society of America article, Porter Novelli CEO Brad MacAfee said the company considers diversity to be both a moral and business imperative and encourages leaders to “think about diversity and inclusion as more than HR programs” and incorporate inclusion and diversity into all facets of the organization.

In 2019, the PR Council also named Porter Novelli a Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative Award winner for the campaign it had launched in response to the one-year anniversary of the tragic and fatal Charlottesville, Virginia, supremacist rally. The campaign was designed to combat hate with love through a variety of efforts, including internal e-newsletters featuring employees’ personal stories; programming on topics such as implicit bias training; and trips to visit LGBTQ and Holocaust museums and attend protest marches.


Monitoring progress to help encourage accountability and improvement

To help maintain a consistent focus on diversity and inclusion, according to information software provider Salesforce shared on its site, leaders within the company with more than 500 employees reporting to them receive a monthly diversity scorecard from the company’s Office of Equality.

The scorecard lists the current number and percentage of women and underrepresented minority employees in their group; the amount who were hired in the previous month; the number who were promoted — and the number of women and underrepresented minority employees who have left the company.

Quarterly diversity scorecards are also shared with senior leaders in an operations review staff meeting. Both the percentage of women who work at the company and the percentage of employees from underrepresented minority groups increased within the organization between 2017 and 2018.

Sharing diversity and inclusion data

In addition to tracking results, being transparent about the findings can help organizations determine if progress has been made, while simultaneously letting current and potential employees know the company remains invested in diversity and inclusion efforts.

Consider optical retail chain Specsavers, for example, which was named a 2019 National Diversity Award winner by The Diversity Group, an organization that promotes equality in the U.K. Specsavers shares its gender pay data internally with its various businesses that are based around the world — and also publishes the corresponding report on its website, where the general public can easily access the information.

For more on how to develop a diversity and inclusion initiative that will be effective, view our blog posts on how to position your chief diversity officer to succeed, why your diversity program won’t work without inclusion — and 3 ways to prevent your diversity program from faltering.