Time to think differently on diversity strategies?

Have employee resource groups had their day?

Those companies with teams that are diverse in terms of race and ethnicity are 35% more likely to have greater financial returns, according to a recent report by management consultancy firm McKinsey called Why Diversity Matters.


Not only that, but diverse teams are known to think differently and more broadly about any challenges they face.


Diverse teams clearly bring many benefits to those companies who invest in it. For a function like procurement that needs a constant stream of fresh ideas, this kind of thinking is essential.


As such, to really try and make diversity grow and develop within their organisations, many businesses are taking a fresh look at the ways in which they try and drive that conversation internally.


Traditionally, many companies turned to employee resource groups (ERGs). Introduced in the 1970s, ERGs are a forum in which staff could have conversations around particular issues, including diversity, in an attempt to try and create more inclusive workplaces.


Now, however, the likes of professional services firm Deloitte are shaking-up their approach. The company has said that it plans to eliminate its existing diversity programmes, which includes disbanding its women’s ERG among other affinity groups. Instead, it will put the focus on managers – both men and women – and empower them to create a more diverse business.


Giving the responsibility to individual managers has many potential positives. Empowering them rather than dictating policy from the top could help see diversity evolve naturally and could help it develop stronger roots, which take hold for the long-term.


The downsides are that if an individual manager has their focus elsewhere then this could slip down the agenda or be ignored altogether.


Whatever approach businesses, or indeed function heads, decide to take, it needs to be the right approach for each individual organisation and function. If ERGs work then they work. So long as the approach taken is constantly reviewed to ensure it is productive and is driving diversity to the heart of the organisation, then that is the key to success.


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.

Sophie Dyer
Posted by Sophie Dyer

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