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Diversity and inclusion is far more than a talking point

23 June 2021

As diversity and inclusion play an ever growing role in shaping stakeholder perceptions, your record is under scrutiny more than ever before, not only among the talent you attract and retain, but with your customers and investors.

In this environment, diversity and inclusion needs to be a board-level conversation. Building a robust diversity and inclusion strategy informed by data, and including it in your risk and wider business management will enable your organisation to actively shape perceptions and gain a competitive advantage.

Imagine what full inclusion could do for your business

How much stronger would your business be if women and men were truly an equal consideration in strategic planning, technological development, product design, marketing and external engagement? 

Diversity and inclusion are quickly rising up the business agenda. They’re primarily seen as talent priorities - building fairer representation within senior positions, tackling pay gaps and bias, and creating a more flexible and inclusive internal environment. But true change will mean thinking about the women and men who are your customers, your suppliers and your community, as well as your employees. 

Text: But where to start?

But where to start? An ‘outside-in’ approach to gender equality

To achieve a truly positive outcome businesses will require an enterprise-wide approach, examining every aspect of their operations through a gender lens, while acknowledging differentiation by gender may not always be appropriate.

A key step is understanding what gender data is available for analysis. Governance structures, operating models and technology may also need to be put in place to support an enterprise-wide gender lens approach. But this won’t solve it all – along with the models and tools for change, there will need to be a focus on adjusting your culture to help make sure applying a gender lens becomes part of the way you do business every day.

This may require strong leadership and accountability, a clear articulation of your expectations, priorities and rationale for change, and the adaptation of your approach for local community needs and expectations.

How much data do you have on any differences between what men and women want from your business? Are there any gaps in the services you provide? Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, gender data can also be used to help create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to inform decision making, track performance and drive continuous innovation.

 

To see change, you need to be change

The first big step in realising the potential for your business is looking beyond what everyone else is doing and to judge where a gender lens can have the biggest impact on your business. That, in turn, may require a cultural shift:

1. Transformation requires enterprise-wide buy-in and change

Focused initiatives can provide short term impact to galvanise change. Mobilisation within some business teams may be easier than others, especially if those teams already use demographic data and insights (e.g. marketing). However, a company-wide approach can help mitigate the risks around accidental gender bias more effectively. Experience tells us that where new approaches, products and services are designed and engineered by a single group, the end result often will not serve communities well who were under-represented. Ultimately, you need to begin to challenge every part of your business to think beyond the standard way of operating. 

2. Focus on where your commercial skills and experience will deliver the greatest value

Although every part of your enterprise should be considered through a gender lens, it does not necessarily mean the areas you will prioritise will cover every aspect of your business. To have the biggest impact commercially and socially, it’s important to focus where you will add the most value.

3. Understand where you are now and articulate where you want to be and why

Once you have engaged leaders across your enterprise, work out how far along the journey your business is, as a whole, and identify what the ultimate end goal might look like. It’s important to understand how mature each area of your business is to help identify potential areas where you can add real value as your plans progress. In order to drive success, you must have accountability, at board level and throughout the business. Additionally, data is needed to track progress, both against the end goal and to measure how far you have come.

4. Lastly, turn ambition into action

True change will require not just every aspect of your enterprise to take a gender lens to their strategic plans, but for each of your employees and leaders to think and behave in this way as standard. The ultimate goal is consistent cultural change.

In conclusion ...

Looking at diversity and inclusion through a commercial lens is still a largely untapped opportunity to differentiate your business, boost brand loyalty and reinforce your social licence to operate.

Read the PwC UK and the 30% Club report ‘Missing Millions’ to learn how your organisation can address the potential ‘missing millions’ of gender related insights and opportunities.

 

Contact us

Lucienne Pace Ross

Lucienne Pace Ross

Assurance Partner, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 7293

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