While the term business case for diversity may sound more like a business tool that should be used by big corporations, in reality every institution needs a business case, or benefit case, for diversity. The business case for diversity is an invaluable opportunity to illustrate the relationship that diversity has to the long term success of the organization. We have found that this is an essential step to the process of taking diversity out of the category of a “feel good” program and into the category of “essential for business success.”
There are few who would argue against positive co-worker relationships and respect for the individual dignity as being helpful in developing a positive workplace environment. Many organizations are proud to display their espoused values like respect, teamwork, individual dignity, and integrity on plagues throughout the workplace. And yet, even in these organizations, people find themselves faced with a range of behaviors and predicaments that “fly in the face” of the well-intended values. Even in workplaces where the intentions are genuine, some people find obstacles to their full engagement based not on issues of qualification and performance, but rather on the visible and invisible group memberships they represent.
Recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse employees are critical to a corporation’s success in this evolving marketplace.These efforts must be carefully planned, nurtured, and measured to ensure success.
Build Your Own Business Case for Diversity
Every organization that decides to undertake diversity training will have a unique business case for doing so. The uniqueness occurs because the heart of a business case for diversity highlights the operational, financial and competitive impact that diversity is having and will have on the organization. And these impacts will differ depending upon the business model for an organization. A specific business case for diversity will help to fully engage senior leadership and employees in understanding how diversity training will help to achieve both organizational and individual goals.
Some questions to consider as you build your own business case for diversity:
- What are your key strategic goals and how could diversity help you to achieve those goals?
- How is diversity impacting key operations at your organization? For example, customer service interactions? What is the opportunity there?
- What changes in demographics are impacting your client/customer base? How does this impact the work that you are doing overall and more specifically work you are doing around diversity?
- How are your competitors responding to diversity or using diversity to distinguish themselves competitively?
Pairing diversity training with a strong business case that is linked specifically to your needs strengthens the diversity training and also helps to ensure that those taking the training understand why it is important to their work and to the organization’s goals.