By Fatima Sullivan: Regional Director Southern & Eastern Africa, DHL Express SSA
The importance of having a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive (DE&I) workforce has been well documented. A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the business, feel equally involved in and supported in all areas of the workplace. This means it is critical that all leaders get involved in driving DE&I.
According to a McKinsey report, female leaders invest twice as much time as male bosses on driving diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace, and this tends to create an assumption that the concept refers to the inclusion of women in organisations.
Moreover, in most cases, the meaning of these concepts is often confused. There is little attention paid to the nuances of these concepts and that is why it is important for leaders to demystify them, as they have implications on people-related strategies and practices.
This means we need all leaders, irrespective of gender, to get involved in driving DE&I in order to clarify and clear the misconception that these concepts only relate to women’s engagement in the workplace.
We need active leadership that understands that as there are many aspects that serve as a competitive advantage for organisations, DE&I is no different. Companies that invest in building a strong inclusive culture are able to collaborate and find solutions quicker in challenging times.
This has been proven over the last three years, as the world has experienced an abundance of challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic, rising food and energy costs to name a few – and leaders had to make some tough decisions and mobilise their teams to cope effectively with the changing environment. Those who could benefit from diverse thinking would have been the ones to have the highest levels of success – when the times get tough, you need out-of-the-box thinking.
In 2023, as leaders, we have the opportunity to advance our gains in this space and move towards creating workplaces where everyone has a sense of belonging. With that, employees can contribute tangible value to their companies and really be part of the solution.
We need to be truly intentional about driving policies, processes and procedures that push for equal, inclusive and diverse workplaces; because that will have a significant influence on whether their companies survive or not in the long run.