Behind the trendy buzzwords “diversity and inclusion” heard in companies across the country lies an important premise. The simple idea that everyone should feel valued and respected in their work environment. Not only is it good for morale, but it can concurrently help boost business.
What was once an HR trend has evolved into a major initiative for many companies that are seeing positive results in employee productivity and profitability. From ethnic minorities to women in leadership positions or those who identify as LGBTQ, today’s businesses are finding that representation doesn’t just feel good—rather it truly improves work environments in a variety of meaningful ways.
Diversity in the workplace recognizes that a company’s employees are composed of people with different characteristics, some of whom may be underrepresented in its teams. Inclusion works in tandem to give diverse individuals an opportunity to contribute, provide differing perspectives and share approaches.
“Diversity brings together employees who have different backgrounds and experiences that shape their perspectives, opinions and skills,” says Megan Powell, California Bank & Trust Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager and Assistant Vice President of Employee Experience. “Being inclusive of these differences creates new ideas and behaviors that allow companies to better meet the needs of their employees, clients and the communities in which they do business.”
Many companies are now striving to integrate these concepts into their teams as it has been shown to positively impact a company’s overall performance and bottom line. Here’s how:
Increased employee innovation - Diverse opinions and viewpoints help encourage innovative ideas and inspire better connections to customers and user populations, all while fostering an overall happier workplace.
“When you have engaged employees, you have happier employees. They feel included, involved and a part of the organization overall,” said Jathan Segur, CB&T Chair of Diversity & Inclusion and Executive Vice President of Premier Wealth Management and Marketing.
Higher revenue – It has been shown that small changes can lead to big results. Diverse workplaces increased revenue by 19 percent compared to work environments without D&I programs. In a constantly shifting business environment, increased innovation means that these companies are better able to swiftly adapt to changes in customer demand.
“It circles back to looking at your customers. Your employee base should mirror who you serve and who you want to serve. A workforce that reflects its customer base tends to have a broader reach and more diverse ideas,” said Segur
Outperforming competitors - In addition to generating more revenue, top companies with racial and ethnic diversity programs are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Segur also points to the fact it can attract a strong pool of talent.
“It allows the opportunity to attract talent from a broader workforce,” he said. “Generation X and Y workers are especially attuned to the ideas of diversity and inclusion. It’s almost a baseline requirement for those in early- to mid-career as it conveys employee respect.”
While there’s no perfect mold for a company diversity and inclusion strategy, these tactics can help establish a meaningful workplace that will allow employees to innovate and flourish.
1. Identify that diversity and inclusion is a mindset, not just a number
“Many leaders are now recognizing the benefits of diversity and inclusion beyond increased profitability,” Powell said. “Acknowledging the importance of diversity and inclusion is the first step to being more supportive followed by providing resources. Creating a meaningful diversity and inclusion program takes time, effort and a budget.”
2. Encourage empathetic leadership with a top-down approach
Management leading by example is not a new concept, but leaning in with an open mind and creating opportunities for safe interaction enables people to seek and establish common ground.
“Take the time to recognize how you’re diverse and that different people come to the table with their own stories,” Segur said. “Even just relating or being an ally to diversity brings personal commitment and engagement to the table.”
3. Monitor fair pay and opportunities
Unfortunately, gender pay inequality still occurs today across many occupations and industries. Working to ensure that employees feel they’re paid equally regardless of their gender, race or other personal characteristics is not only essential to morale, but should be a priority for growing companies in competitive industries. When company morale is up, employees are motivated to perform at their best.
4. Opening the opportunity to employees
Employees can do their part in creating a more inclusive environment, as they can inspire new ways to engage, collaborate and step out their usual teams. Powell recommends bigger companies supporting diversity groups.
“California Bank & Trust’s diversity groups, known as Business Resource Groups, are the heart of our program,” Powell said. “These employee-led groups provide a place to share ideas and network while raising awareness of diversity and promoting inclusiveness. Other benefits include creating a culture of allies, developing personally and professionally and connecting to the community. By letting these groups develop naturally within the program, we’ve been able to increase employee engagement.”
5. Integrate diversity and inclusion into your marketing strategy
Segur encourages incorporating multicultural individuals in marketing as well as a meaningful way to underscore diversity and promote the value of integration.
“Look at your customer base and employee teams and determine opportunities to engage or highlight diverse groups in your marketing collateral,” Segur said. “Even in a small company, you can take steps toward more equal representation by showcasing respect for diversity on your website and in your company’s mission statement and values.”
Employee engagement goes hand-in-hand with diversity and inclusion. It can lead to increased revenue and outpacing competitors. At CB&T, we have various employee-led diversity and inclusion groups such as Banking on Women, Asian Pacific Islander Leaders, Pride@CB&T, Emerging Leaders and more. These are self-supported, employee-led groups that increase diversity and inclusion awareness among our associates, potential associates, clients and prospective clients.
While a diversity and inclusion program doesn’t succeed overnight, you can start with small steps like empathetic leadership and integrating diversity into your marketing and employee communications. Chances are, you will likely see some new ideas for innovation to grow your business.
Jathan Segur is Executive Vice President and Director of Premier Wealth Management and Marketing at California Bank & Trust. He has over 20 years of experience in banking, product development and marketing. An ardent advocate for workplace equality, he spearheaded and currently chairs the diversity and inclusion initiative at the bank. His record as an active volunteer and organizer reflects a long-standing commitment to community stewardship, including his current position on the board of the San Diego Symphony.
Megan Powell is Assistant Vice President and the Employee Experience Program Manager at California Bank & Trust. She has been with the bank for 10 years and is currently focused on employee engagement, recognition and development programs. As a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, she helped create and continues to manage the bank’s diversity and inclusion program. Explore the career opportunities at CB&T to get involved with our diversity and inclusion programs. [cite::171::cite][cite::172::cite]