By Greg Murray, PepsiCo Foods Canada
Of the many overused and proverbial words in business and management, perhaps none are more exploited than "diversity" and "inclusion." Organizations have been doing lip service to their diversity and inclusion agendas for a while with only some truly fostering and leveraging a D&I culture.
This said, if executed with purpose and meaningful intent, D&I can become a core competitive advantage for a corporation. While a basic D&I strategy merely makes average companies good, a strong D&I culture can make a good company great.
Whether you're trying to foster a diverse and inclusive culture within your company, your department or even just yourself, below are some insights and examples that should help you along the road.
At its core, D&I is about acknowledging and leveraging the range of religions, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, disabilities (which are just abilities to see a different perspective) and other diverse traits that exist within an employee base. This is done for two reasons: to form strong teams that mirror the diverse markets and communities those companies serve, and secondly to foster an environment where employees can bring their "whole-self" to work
The logic behind the former is simple and commonsense: in a world of targeted marketing campaigns, region-specific product and service offerings, and globalization, having an employee base that brings an understanding - both breadth and depth - of different cultures is crucial. This leads to a more innovative culture and a greater respect within the communities and markets being represented.
The latter is centered on the principle that diverse functional groups and teams allow employees to collectively acknowledge and accept their differences. This lays the framework for an inclusive culture where an employee feels they can bring their "whole-self" to work. The result? The company further leverages the talent of their employees.
In my role at PepsiCo, I've had the opportunity to become involved in our very strong D&I efforts. Working with a fantastic organization called Lime (limeconnect.com), I've been able to network with many diverse candidates looking for jobs.
Lime's central goal is to make a young person's disability - whether invisible or visible - take the backseat when looking to get a job and start their career. Through working with their corporate partners such as PepsiCo and Goldman Sachs, Lime exposes students to the world's top employers who come offering real jobs without a "heart string and siren song," as phrased on Lime's website.
This is one example of a D&I culture in action: an employer, in my case PepsiCo, aligning their jobs, mobilizing their employees and allotting resources behind recruiting diverse talent into their company. PepsiCo employees like myself use our time and efforts to further the D&I agenda because we truly understand the difference it makes.
Recruitment is just one piece of the puzzle; there are many other areas to use to foster a D&I culture. Initiatives including forming employee networks, revising incentive structures and scorecards to track D&I metrics, and articulating solid communication from the top-down will start to set a D&I tone.
It will take time and resources to foster a D&I culture, however there is no doubting the extraordinarily high importance of doing so to remain competitive and viable. Allowing employees to represent the communities that your business serves, and bring their "whole-self" to work will play a large role in taking your company - or department - along the path from good to great.
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