In the context of my research on Diversity and Inclusion, I obviously read a lot every day about various related initiatives and organizational practices around the globe. What amazes me is that so many of these initiatives are just about getting the Board or the C-suite right in terms of gender diversity. Is gender diversity at the top level a right and fair thing to do? No question about it. Is top management support vital to actualize D&I in any organization? Absolutely.
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But is obsession with diversity within the Board or C-suite relevant to the way business should be conducted today? Think of the pace businesses appear, grow and die. All these can happen in months, not years or decades as it used to be. Take a look at the levels of hierarchy in a large organization, across functions, geographies or business units. The time wasted for a single business decision to be made is enormous, just to pass the baton from one level to another, from one silo to another. A key business requirement for survival in today’s business world is the need for better decisions made fast: at the lowest level possible, ideally at the front line.
If we want D&I to contribute to business results, getting it right at the Board level is nothing more than scratching the surface. Businesses need each team to become a “mini-Board” focused on key financial targets such as revenue growth, operating income or profitability. To achieve this, teams need a variety of perspectives, but also effective ways to synthesize them. This is where each organization needs to focus on getting D&I right.
This is the reason why one of our recently published Top-10 Strategic Predictions (customer access required) foresees D&I at the front line level to have financial performance impact: through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting diversity and an inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets. And the key point here is not about how to establish causation – there are some early cases showing this is perfectly feasible. It is instead about the urgent need to scale D&I initiatives, leveraging technology, to reach the entire organization. It is also about balancing diversity with inclusion, so that teams can really come up with better decisions.
I will be presenting our recent research on D&I technologies at Gartner ReimagineHR in Orlando (28-30 October) and Application Strategies & Solutions Summit in Las Vegas (27-29 November). There, I look forward to speaking with HR and IT leaders about how they can take their D&I agenda to the next level.