Workplace diversity has been in vogue for some time, but many companies are still struggling to define what it means for their organization, why it is important, and how to include it in their talent management strategy.
South Africa is fortunate to have a youthful nation. However, the recent unemployment statistics pertaining to young people is cause for concern. The 2020 fourth quarter Labour Force Survey found that about 8,6 million young people aged between 15 and 34 years are not in education and not in employment.
This year National Youth Day and Youth Month will be celebrated under the theme: “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society.”
It is against this background that Surgo, a recruitment agency has dedicated this Youth month to encourage gender inclusion and foster diversity in the South African workplace.
Companies with inclusive, supportive environments have better reputations and branding; they draw better candidates for open positions and retain top talent longer.
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is more than policies, programs, or headcounts. Equitable employers outpace their competitors by respecting the unique needs, perspectives and potential of all their team members. As a result, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.
According to Deloitte, diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. Gartner found that inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30 percent in high-diversity environments. In a BCG study, companies with diverse management teams had a 19 percent increase in revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts.
But what is a diverse and inclusive culture? Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion policy adviser at the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a professional organisation that has helped to shape pay gap regulations), describes an inclusive culture as “supporting people to perform at their best as they will be able to be themselves and know their contribution is valued”.
According to the European Commission Report entitled “The Business Case for Diversity in the Workplace: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, it makes good business sense for companies to try and make their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex (LGBTI) employees feel more included in the workplace.
The Labour Research Service of South Africa note that Discrimination and violence against people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity is a serious problem around the world, and South Africa is not immune despite our progressive laws.
A diverse and inclusive environment establishes a sense of belonging among employees. When employees feel more connected at work, they tend to work harder and smarter, producing higher quality work. As a result, organizations that adopt D&I practices see huge gains in the form of business results, innovation, and decision-making.