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  • Writer's pictureBen Capell

Leveraging D&I as Key Component of COVID-19 Business Strategy



In a recent article, McKinsey highlighted the importance of keeping up with the D&I momentum in organizations. While recognizing the risk that D&I work may get de-prioritized as a result of the pandemic, they stressed the point that the clear benefits D&I brings to organizational performance do not change in a crisis and that D&I is critical for business recovery, resilience and reimaginatio


n.


While in agreement with McKinsey’s argument, I would like to take it further. Our knowledge of the specific benefits D&I brings to organizations implies that the focus on D&I should not merely remain the same, but should in fact be enhanced. Afterall, D&I is positioned to play a strategic role in helping organizations navigate this specific economic storm successfully.

Here is why:

1. Diversity can help businesses find innovative solutions to their current challenges

A key benefit of diversity is the advantage mix groups have, over homogenous groups, when it comes to creativity and solving complex, nonroutine problems. Diversity brings to the table different perspectives


, information, and viewpoints. Altogether, it stimulates innovative thinking, and help teams find creative solutions to complex problems.

In other words, by advancing D&I, organizations are better positioned to find out-of-the-box solutions to the unprecedented challenges they face.

Was there any better time for businesses to promote innovative problem-solving? Probably not.

2. Diversity can ena


ble organizations to understand better their Post-COVID 19 markets

Another benefit of diversity is an enhanced understanding of the markets and their different needs and segments. For instance, a study published at HBR reveals that when at least one member of a team has traits in common with the end-user, the whole team understands that user better. The impact seems very significant. A team with a member sharing demographic data, such as ethnicity, with the customer is 152% more likely than another team to understand that customer.

A deep understanding of the markets and our customers is fundamental these days. The pandemic has no doubt diversified, even more, our markets. While it impacted all geographies, the consequences vary extensively across different countries, cities, and communities in terms of health, market, regulations, employment, and more. All these factors end up affecting th


e consumer, their motivation, needs, and sensitivities. What increases our need to understand the post-COVID market inimitably and therefore ensure relevant our teams are mixed and reflect our clients' diversity.

3. Inclusion can help teams perform better despite remoteness

One of the ways Inclusion drive performance is through the sense of belonging and psychological safety it fosters among team members.

Inclusive leaders ensure their employees are treated respectfully and fairly, have a sense of belonging, and feel confident and valued.

One of the direct transformations of the COVID 19 pandemic is our move to remote working. Teams all over the world do not get to meet and spend bonding time together, and many experience loneliness, unc


ertainty, and strain . These feelings, together with health concerns due to the pandemic, take a toll on employees' psychological well-being and can lead to a drop in their motivation, productivity, and ability to make sound decisions.

To keep on achieving great results, leaders need to ensure, more than ever, that they bring people closer together, create synergies, mutual trust, promote mental wellbeing, and help their employees feel psychologically safe to share their ideas and do their best work. Inclusive leadership is a key leadership skill to enabling this.

Summary:

Succeeding in these difficult times requires finding innovative solutions to unprecedented challenges, improving our understanding of emerging market dynamics, and keeping teams and individuals committed, so they perform at the highest levels. A well-implemented D&I plan will support all those elements and, therefore, is uniquely positioned to form an integral component of an organization's


COVID-19 business strategy.

In other words, more than keeping the D&I momentum despite the pandemic (or even reducing it), businesses should consider increasing their D&I investment as a result of the new reality and needs.


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