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Businesses should measure progress on diversity and inclusion

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Businesses should measure how diverse and inclusive they are to set a benchmark for continued improvement, an expert in HR strategies has said.

Justine Cooper of Brook Graham, a diversity and inclusion consultancy that is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons, said businesses should care about how they perform against diversity and inclusion goals because diverse and inclusive businesses “perform better across a range of financial, customer and employee measures”.

Cooper was commenting after Brook Graham developed a free-to-use interactive chatbot, IDA, as a tool to help users self-assess their organisation's maturity level in inclusion and diversity.

Research shows organisations with inclusive cultures are: twice as likely to meet or exceed their financial targets; three times more likely to be high performing; six times more likely to be innovative, and twice as likely to achieve better business outcomes,” Cooper said. “The research also highlights the impact of inclusion at an individual level, and how this increases by more than 70% with inclusive leadership, felt in terms of experiences of fairness, respect, value and belonging.”

“So, at both the organisational business case, and the impact to us as human beings, the evidence and reasons for fostering diversity and inclusion are compelling,” she said.

Cooper said businesses often encounter challenges in bringing about real change, and struggle to deliver meaningful results in progressing their diversity and inclusion strategy.  She highlighted research by Diversity Council Australia, published in 2019, in which 75% of diversity and inclusion practitioners and change agents reported that diversity and inclusion change is never, rarely, or only sometimes implemented effectively.

“The results of that study were not surprising when you consider that only 6% of practitioners indicated they use a model of organisational change when designing and implementing diversity and inclusion,” said Cooper. “Fostering diversity and inclusion is cultural change, it is multi-layered and takes time.”

“Culture change is leader-led, enabled by expert capability in human resources, but led from the top. Where diversity and inclusion is seen as a tick-box exercise, or the ownership of a function, behavioural change will not follow,” she said.

Cooper said that movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have increased expectations on employers to take concrete action in support of bold policy or social media statements. These expectations are also increasingly being reflected by investors, in procurement processes and in customer decisions, she said.

Cooper said Pinsent Masons’ IDA chatbot has been developed in tandem with Brook Graham's maturity model, that builds on change management methodology, and provides the stages for sustainable and measurable culture change on diversity and inclusion.

“The tailored commentary provides insights in focus areas to accelerate progress, which can help to develop a roadmap for action,” Cooper said.

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