5 Ways to Cultivate D&I in the Workplace

By Joyce Trimuel | November 4, 2019

This is an important time for the insurance industry, as companies across 34 countries recently joined together in celebration of diversity and inclusion (D&I) through the 2019 Dive In Festival. Dive In has played a crucial role in raising awareness and promoting positive action for diversity since its founding in 2015. It has served as a reminder that a commitment to D&I should be a key component of any company’s day-to-day operations.

When a company has a more diverse workforce, it obtains greater access to fresh thinking and new perspectives. Creating a culture in which people know they matter and are part of an organization that is making a difference will ensure that the abilities of all employees are being used to their fullest potential and can drive innovation throughout a company, excelling the business forward.

D&I Supports Business Goals

There is a strong business case for putting D&I into action. The most compelling benefit to having a strong commitment to D&I is creating a feeling of comfort and inclusivity for employees to be who they are in the workplace. Employees who are comfortable are more likely to engage, which results in increased productivity, innovation and a willingness to go above and beyond when delivering results.

A recent McKinsey study revealed that diverse teams make better decisions, and on average, individuals will prepare better for any group exercise that they know involves working with members different from themselves. Therefore, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors, and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to be more successful than competitors.

When a company achieves a more diverse workforce, it obtains greater access to fresh thinking and new perspectives.

These numbers are only expected to grow. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey, 74% of millennials believe their organization is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion. By the year 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials.

Given the higher returns that diversity is expected to bring, paired with millennials’ priorities in the workforce and the change that unique perspectives bring, diversity must be a key part of company culture. It is better to invest in D&I now, as companies that do will continue to pull further ahead, while idle companies will fall further behind.

Making the Change to D&I

Transforming a company into a D&I-focused organization is not easy. While good intentions are there, most organizations do not have the rigorous follow-through with D&I programs that they typically apply for other change programs. This could be because many organizations do not address, or do not know how to address, their D&I agenda as a comprehensive change program with measurable goals, supporting actions, clear accountabilities and with consequences when goals are not being met.

To achieve change, it is not sufficient to simply state that the subject is a priority. Despite the various challenges causing companies to struggle with implementing D&I programs, there are certain steps that teams can take to get started with creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Assign an Executive Sponsor. When embarking on a new program of D&I activity, it is critical to appoint an executive sponsor, such as an internal employee from the leadership team who will take ownership of the D&I strategies and goals, making sure the effort remains a priority across the entire company. This also helps to ensure that D&I will be discussed at the highest levels in the business and not be viewed as just an HR issue.

Incorporate D&I into Employee Training Programs. Make sure the entire staff understands the importance of inclusive practices and D&I strategies. These training sessions can be taught through webinars and company-wide presentations as well as weaved into onboarding programs for all new employees.

Make sure to foster diversity awareness and skills at all levels throughout the organization, as it is important to make sure no department or group is unaware or left out of the company’s goals, strategies, ideas and progress.

When a company achieves a more diverse workforce, it obtains greater access to fresh thinking and new perspectives.

Elevate Partnerships. Develop partnerships and contracts with suppliers, associations and businesses owned by diverse demographics. Be sure to bring D&I into your corporate social responsibility efforts. Take the time to research, partner with and invest in each of the diverse communities where you do business. This ensures that D&I is top-of-mind for all employees in their day-to-day work.

Expand Operations. Explore new and diverse markets, customers and distribution channels for products and services. One place to start is to research a new diverse group of customers through a marketing campaign. Understand how your brand connects to these new customers. Today’s customers are more demanding than ever before for businesses to meet them where they are in life and in their buying journey.

Lead by Example. Promote an environment of acceptance and inclusion by educating yourself on the traits of an inclusive leader. Find ways to develop those traits. This includes cognizance, curiosity, courage to take risks, cultural intelligence, commitment to staying on course and collaborating with diverse teams.

The insurance industry has made great strides around D&I efforts from executives, senior leaders and organizations like the Dive In Festival. According to Dive In surveys, 49% of festival participants claim positive culture toward D&I has improved since last year’s events but there is more work we can do to make sure the insurance industry continues to evolve.

We expect D&I efforts to accelerate innovation across companies as employees from diverse backgrounds bring unique perspectives to the table. This can enable employees to challenge assumptions, try new approaches and think outside of the box when seeking solutions. It is our civic duty to provide an inclusive workplace for employees to thrive in — one that benefits employees and drive business.

About Joyce Trimuel

Trimuel is the chief diversity officer at CNA.

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Insurance Journal West November 4, 2019
November 4, 2019
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