Biz Tips: 4 Reasons Why Diversity & Inclusion and Digital Transformation Matter

Biz Tips: 4 Reasons Why Diversity & Inclusion and Digital Transformation Matter

Biz Tip:

4 Reasons Why Diversity & Inclusion and Digital Transformation Matter

My practice allows me to have several in-depth and candid conversations with leaders of various organizations spread over several industries. And while their operations, customers and demographics of skilled workforce may differ, there are two similar challenges they all face – Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and Digital Transformation (DT). While they’ll agree that they’ve taken steps forward to address both these challenges, there’s often nothing significant or pride-worthy for them to talk about.

Usually, when I bring up the topic of D&I the CEO would touch upon the subject and then shift the spotlight onto the Head of HR to further comment. The HR leader mentions some of the initiatives they’ve recently taken and then ends abruptly without much conclusion drawn. The same happens when I seek insights to their DT initiatives. The CEO, after a brief comment or two, passes the baton to the CIO for further elaboration. Which usually isn’t much at all.

In recent years leaders have been challenged significantly to maintain their company’s relevance in the tough, rapidly changing and exponentially growing business world. To top it all, they’ve had to face challenges around D&I and DT as well. And while on the surface you may assume that challenges around the products or services of the company has precedence over all other challenges, you’ll be surprised that these two play a vital role in a company’s success. Particularly now, more than ever. Especially when you’re aiming to grow at the rapid pace that’s necessary to survive and succeed.

Here’s how you can get a grip on diversity and inclusion and digital transformation.

1. Reinvent Your Talent Pool

The talent you have today possess the skills and competencies to help you ‘get by’ the challenges that are currently prevalent. However, the future is a far more overreaching hurdle to take on with your current workforce. What you need is a team who’s ready for the digital explosion that’s occurring as we speak. A team that has the digital competencies and tech savviness to handle challenges that are unforeseen, yet inevitable.

While employee loyalty still holds value and maintains its benefits, the trouble you face with a loyal workforce is complacency. That alone can spell out the death of your company. Hence, your strategies need to incorporate ways to attract talent that will be vital for your company’s future growth. Talent that has digital transformation in their DNA and who aren’t afraid to leap into realms of change and evolution. These new digitally inclined talent can be just the catalyst your company’s existing workforce needs to nudge them towards the digital transformation your business desperately needs to survive.

Additionally, you may also want to consider ways to embrace agile talent as an avenue of tapping into skills that can fuel the fire of digital transformation. Staying nimble is key here, and with the help of agile talent you could easily access knowledge and skills that your company can benefit from years from now.

2. Avoid Obsolete Business Cases

When considering the leap into D&I or even DT many companies get lost in the world of business cases to justify the move. Strategies are analyzed (often overanalyzed), debated and even redesigned to make a case that is already long overdue. Not to mention the time that’s wasted convincing each other that such initiatives are important. There is no debate around the fact that diversity and inclusion is the foundation of successful companies. And that digital transformation is the necessity that can empower your company to succeed. Both are, quite simply, the way business will be conducted from now on.

The business world today, is defined by complex organization structures, enhanced ways of communication, and analytics driven by artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Hence, there’s no case to be made. It’s just a matter of leaders embracing this norm and stepping out of their comfort zone. It’s a matter of leading from your heart which should be guiding you towards an inclusive, diverse and digital culture.

3. Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions

When I inquire from leaders how they’ve addressed their company’s diversity and digital transformation challenges, I often come across initiatives that can be categorized as bandages. Sure, on the face of it they’ve taken steps forward, however, if you were to look closer at each of the initiatives they’ll mention you’ll see, as I have on several occasions, that they’re simply addressing each wound in isolation. These may be quick fixes, knee-jerk reactions and even simple remedies, however, what they aren’t are well thought out strategies that add up to something bigger.

The idea that companies need to be more diverse and digitally empowered isn’t a shiny new trend that you need to have in your company. It isn’t a feather on your leadership cap. It’s much more than that. It’s a cultural shift that can enable your company to greatness. Such shifts in company culture can even make your leadership legendary. Hence, leaders need to see it as it is – a cultural evolution.

To make a real impact you need a plan and strategy. Along with this, you need to define milestones and timelines that can help you measure the plan’s effectiveness. Rather than running initiatives without aiming for something big, try channeling in all your efforts to really achieve diversity and digital transformation. Furthermore, the importance of the strategies you develop needs to be felt across the board. This isn’t just the ‘CEO’s pet project’ or ‘area of interest at the moment’, it’s a cultural evolution that should permeate through the ranks and across the entire company.

4. Your New Dynamic Duo

Remember how the CIO got a big boost of recognition and a larger role to play in the company’s success because of the changing demands of digital customers? The same applies in the case of diversity and digital transformation. Your HR leader and the CIO are your new dynamic duo that can together help you achieve this change.

Your employees, much like your customers, are becoming more and more digitally inclined and dependent. Hence, your culture, work environment and employee engagement strategies need to harness the power of technology to really make a positive impact. That’s why your CIO needs to work closely with the CHRO to formulate strategies that make digital transformation a reality while emphasizing on diversity.

Take the example of gamification which has enabled companies to attract, retain and engage employees through a technology based environment that’s fun, interactive and highly engaging. Several companies are now applying gamification to their work environment and realizing its benefits. And gamification wouldn’t be a reality if HR didn’t embrace technology.

In many ways the efforts required to implement an effective Diversity and Inclusion strategy faces similar challenges as with digital transformation. While they may be different areas of a business’s agenda, they are similar by way of empowering companies to be even more successful, particularly in the age of accelerated growth. Do share your thoughts and how your company has made progress on diversity and digital transformation.

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