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Gillian Harford: What’s Diversity for You?

Gillian Harford: What's Diversity for You?
What does diversity mean for your organization? 

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown brought devastating impacts for some industries and groups of employees; but it also brought a step-change in ways of working – in terms of talent attraction, remote induction, creating a more agile way of working, inclusive leadership skills and the need and benefits of a more diverse adaptable workforce

Diversity in the workplace is constantly evolving, understanding how diversity would make a difference to your organisation is vital for driving change and success. In a more modern world of work, particularly as globalisation and digitalisation become the watch-words, we need a more diverse and inclusive approach so that we can attract and retain top talent and be attractive to investors who already, and will increasingly, pay significant attention to factors supporting more sustainable business. 

Many want to continue to generate ideas and innovate for progress but few have what it takes- diversity of thought.

You need diversity of thought to continue to generate new ideas and innovate for progress.
Photo credits: August de Richelieu from Pexels

According to research by the Technical University of Munich and the Boston Consulting Group. 

“Companies with the greatest gender diversity (with 8 out of every 20 managers female) generated about 34% of their revenues from innovative products and services in the most recent three-year period.”  

To understand how D&I (diversity and inclusion) has changed over time and what new approaches would work in a hybrid world, we spoke with Gillian Harford, Country Executive with the 30% Club in Ireland. We started with the big question – what are the companies that are getting it right, doing that others should be following? 

Harford explained that the companies that are getting it right understand that D&I is not a standalone initiative but rather an integral part of a business strategy that needs to link down to every business function. She added that “as a leader, you see diversity as part of the business strategy and ask yourself: 

  • How do I think about diversity and inclusion for better business outcomes, rather than just being a good thing to do? Is it part of our purpose, our values, and our culture? 
  • How do I start thinking about; how do I hire talent, but more importantly how do I retain talent and whether diverse talent is represented at every level and every function within my organisation? 
  •  Is my business attractive to a diverse range of customers and does my employee base reflect the customers that I serve so I can better understand their needs? and 
  • How can I encourage diversity in my supply chain, and across the full aspect of my operating model in terms of ESG, as a responsible employer, shareholder, stakeholder?” 

Explaining how diversity is a process Harford said.

“It’s about counting, metrics, it’s about representation. But diversity by itself adds very little value if you don’t have an environment where those diverse voices can contribute. Inclusion brings the behavioural value and is about making sure that the voices that you bring in can be heard, and can contribute to better outcomes” 

It is time to reaffirm the conviction that diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, background, and broader diversity of thought is significant for a vibrant and successful business organisation. 

Diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, and broader diversity of thought is significant for a vibrant and successful business organisation. Photo credits: Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

Once you understand what diversity means for your organisation, you can now move on to tackling the lack of diversity. And how would you know your problem areas and the subsequent strategy to tackle them?  

We at Hunter Executive Search not only promise premium executive search but also help you lead more efficiently and effectively. In the next part of our D&I series with Gillian Harford and IoD (Institute of Directors in Ireland), we’ll highlight and discuss multiple approaches to tackle the lack of diversity in your organisation. 

Read Part 2 of our series here

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