The Advantage of an Inclusion + Talent Approach to Business

Posted 15 Mar 2021

The Covid 19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements of 2020 are two events in history which have brought to our attention the need to think about a better way to live and do business as a society. I now believe that the vast majority of professionals understand the level playing field principal as set out in equality legislation in a number of countries. The area which still needs work, however, is to relate the advantages of a diverse and inclusive workforce to wider business metrics and outcomes which are tangible.

 Talman HR’s Inclusion + Talent Matrix demonstrates how broad practices and principles can be used to maximum effect from day zero of a new approach to operations and strategy for your business. The majority of diversity content in the business world tends to focus on two main areas: adaptability and cultural change. These are enviable and practices which I support as a consultant but the reality for many businesses is somewhere in the middle. If a business is change resistant, looking into practical workplace adjustments can be just as effective as an overarching strategy review. Our model looks at three A’s: Accessibility, Awareness and Adaptation. We take a traditional view listing operations first and strategy last but, in most cases, whether or not an approach to diversity is likely to be successful or not depends on three interrelated considerations: strategy, culture and values. For example, If your organisation has not set out what its values are and how these impact practice on a day-to-day basis, then how can you expect key stakeholders to buy-in into the overall vision of the organisation?

 Let’s take a few examples from the operational side of the model. Looking at workplace adjustments, confidence in holding ‘protected conversations’ and auditing existing practices, are likely to be directly impacted by a wider rollout of changes across the organisation. Greater feelings of belongingness and trust towards the organisation and a culture of openness which values individual differences and allows the organisation to move forward based on the experiences of people from a range of diverse backgrounds demonstrates the link to strategy. These are all things that either you cannot or are very difficult to train and it is only when you allow a culture of openness and tolerance to flourish that the benefits become clear to the organisation.

 It is vitally important that diversity does not become a siloed issue for any organisation. Alongside operational, tactical and strategic considerations which generally sprout from culture overall, there is a need to express the benefits of diversity and inclusion in broader business terms. This is not just an issue for diversity but a broader concern for most HR professionals as many departments do not seem well-equipped to demonstrate the benefits of their initiatives in ways that apply beyond HR. In other words, HR is traditionally very good at looking inwards. There are some key measures that I would suggest any organisation begins to consider extremely widely: return on investment or innovation, the number or percentage of people who feel safe to disclose a diversity -related consideration for work, the cost per hire of general departmental roles and productivity ratios. Did you know that the average UK productivity deficit is 20% to Germany, 15% to France and even 8% to Italy despite the fact that those countries have more stringent attitudes and policies to working time where the maximum limit is 35 hours per week rather than 48 as is the case in the UK? This clearly shows that organisations, policymakers, and key influences are engaging in practices which do not fundamentally address the problem despite considerable interest in the productivity subject over the last 10 years or so. I hope that one of the main positives which comes out of the current Covid situation is the realisation that people do not have to be in the same location, at the same time, all of the time, to be effective. The need to work remotely and to manage my disability effectively was one of the main reasons why are set up Talman HR shortly after completing my Master’s degree. Thought leaders are continually suggesting that the business world has leapt forward by about 10 years in terms of technological capability over the past 12 months or so. It’s such a shame that these practices have come about as a result of a somewhat forced and reactive situation.

 One of the main advantages of taking a strategic approach from the very start in trying to resolve any given issue, is the ability to take a broader perspective in relation to the problem encountered and to consider multiple approaches before zooming in on one or a few particular courses of action. This seems simple enough so why don’t we do more of it? It seems even more perplexing when diversity in the UK has so often been viewed as a tick box or compliance exercise when there are so many benefits to diversity in taking a broader perspective. Another shocking statistic here is that the UK loses £1.8 billion annually through organisations being non-diverse, usually because they do not accommodate consumers or workers needs sufficiently despite legal protections being in place. It is somewhat of a mistake to think that legislation and policies alone will solve the problem. By identifying values and cultural practices which can be tailored specifically to an organisation and then integrating the broader benefits of particular requirements like workplace or reasonable adjustments has to be a better route forward for everyone concerned. After all business often talks about talent management so therefore what we should all be advocating is Talent Management + More.


by Chris Wright