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Showcasing the real benefits behind diversity and inclusion in 2023

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are not entirely new concepts. However, HR thought leaders and social researchers were able to gain new and varied perspectives while navigating through the pandemic.

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Many are now realising that a diverse and inclusive workforce can generate huge advantages for companies, as they become more innovative, profitable, and equipped to attract and retain the most talented employees.

According to Deloitte, diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period. Meanwhile, Gartner finds that inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30% in high-diversity environments. Moreover, a study by Boston Consulting Group shows that companies with diverse management teams had a 19% increase in revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts.

Southeast Asia is one of the most diverse regions in the world. It has more than 100 ethnic groups and 655 million people speaking more than 1,000 languages and dialects. Still, many organisations across the region are not yet taking advantage of this vast talent resource. Workforces and leadership teams are composed primarily of ethnic majorities, mostly men, resulting in few companies having distinct policies in place for diverse groups. Research shows that companies that fail to focus on diversity and inclusion are at risk of losing out on high-stake opportunities over the long run.

Fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce is a worthy endeavor, not just in public relations, but in pure business terms.  While diversity and inclusion were a nice-to-have for organisations decades ago, they have now become a clear business case for companies. 

For one, diversity and inclusion fuel innovation. By hiring people from different backgrounds, and empowering them to speak out and participate in decision-making processes, companies can have fresh and varied perspectives on problems, avoid groupthink, and solve challenges in new ways.

When you have a diverse range of people bringing in their expertise backed not only by knowledge and work experience but also culture and personal experiences, they give the organisation a world view,” Sodexo CEO Sunil Nayak says.

Further, a recent study by Open for Business, a coalition of global companies that aims to increase inclusion for non-traditional sexualities, found that cities most inclusive of their non-hetrosexual residents had stronger innovation ecosystems, higher concentrations of skills and talent, and a better quality of life compared to other cities.

Meanwhile, McKinsey research shows that companies in the top quartile for diverse leadership teams outperformed less diverse peers on profitability. Stalled progress on diversity and inclusion will make things more challenging in the long term. It may also result in negative perceptions of employees, current and future customers, and potential talent who increasingly view diversity as an important factor in job seeking.

Boston Consulting Group surveyed more than 6,100 employees in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines to have an overview of the current state of diversity and inclusion in the region. The survey shows some progress as companies, both local and multinational, are hiring dedicated diversity and inclusion representatives, coming up with targeted strategies, and setting up new initiatives for marginalised groups. 

However, the consultancy emphasises that Southeast Asia is still far behind the rest of the world. Overall, only 58% of companies have some form of diversity and inclusion program in place, compared with a global average of 96%. 

Read the full report here.

Related article:

How workplace inequality grew more apparent during the pandemic

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Chief of Staff Asia