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How HR can approach changing conversations around diversity

Conversations around diversity and inclusion have evolved as companies and leaders start to understand the importance of implementing inclusivity across the company for not only their brand but for their people too.

Pride month in the UK is a great example of how companies have changed over the past five to 10 years, as many corporations have started to embrace LGBT+ initiatives and programmes to show their support.

When it comes to HR teams, the social and cultural movements of the past year have accelerated the momentum for leaders to implement strategies that go beyond communications and into direct action.

So, what is the next step and how can HR managers ensure this momentum continues?

Getting D&I right:

Is using umbrella terms such as BAME, LGBT+ and disabled hindering inclusion efforts?

Better LGBT+ programmes needed to avoid conflicts

Disability needs to be higher on the D&I agenda


Why diversity matters

Diversity goes beyond a social cause in today’s environment. A recent McKinsey report highlights the importance of a diverse workforce on a company’s overall success and productivity.

The analysis highlights a strong case for both gender and ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership, showing companies with gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability.

As part of the teaching on the UCL MBA we explore gender and race in the workplace and how critical leadership decisions in the space can make the difference for not only a companies’ internal and external reputation but for its bottom line.

It has been argued that diverse companies outperform less diverse companies, and now we have the data to back this up. Having a diverse group of voices in a room helps to improve decision making.

When looking at global markets leaders and organisations should ensure they have a workforce that represents your customer base and the culture to enable better connections with your customers and diversify your company’s voice.


How HR managers can implement diversity strategies  

A challenge many HR professionals are faced with is a lack of support at the top level around diversity. A great place to start is how you frame your pitch.

Yes, having a strong diversity and inclusion strategy is the right, socially conscious thing to do, but when you are talking to senior management, board members and stakeholders, this argument can get lost amongst other business numbers. This is where you reframe and broaden your argument.

The data is there to prove that a diverse workforce will benefit your organisation and help you to outperform your competition, so make that the lead of your pitch. Highlight to your teams how a strong DEI approach will help your business be more profitable and efficient alongside the ultimate argument that it is the right thing to do.

A key aspect of diversity and inclusion when it comes to HR policies, particularly for global companies, is to remember every part of the world is different and at different stages of this process.

HR has the access and leverage to discuss and implement policies which are crucial in any diversity approach and it’s important to consider how these policies differ across regions and employees. For example, if you plan to provide a package for new employees from other countries, are the benefits applicable for that person

HR managers should explore if the benefits your company provides are what your employees want and does it support your diverse workforce. 

The past year has forced companies to look at things with a different perspective and part of that is ensuring a strong diversity, equity and inclusion policy is in place. The value of including diverse perspectives has been proven and is here to stay, and I am excited to see how corporations of all sizes respond. 


James Berry is director of the UCL MBA


If you have a pressing D&I problem you can't get to the bottom of, send in your query here where it will be be answered by our resident D&I specialist Huma Qazi in the next issue of HR magazine.