The corporate implications of bias ignorance

Written by Tom Lakin  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  • 1 November 2023

Most companies understand the moral case for a diverse workforce, but few go the extra mile to ensure the fabric of their organisation promotes and empowers underrepresented talent, while intentionally welcoming more into the fold. 

Whilst ED&I initiatives are often sidelined when times get tough and business priorities shift., there is comprehensive proof that a lack of diversity in a workforce can lead to strategic and financial detriment. McKinsey states that organisations with the most ethnically and culturally diverse boards were over 40% more likely to have higher profits. This is in stark contrast to companies with low diversity across gender, culture, and ethnicity, which are 29% less likely to have above-average profitability.

Below, we shed some light on the financial impacts you may observe when your organisation neglects to adopt a comprehensive diverse hiring and inclusive workforce strategy. Should these symptoms ring a bell, it may be time to identify and mitigate key sources of bias and discrimination within your company via impartial analysis like the Recruitment Inclusivity Audit.

Decreased innovation and creativity

Missing out on bringing diverse talent into your business, and the numbers predict an innovation and revenue decline. BCG reports that diverse management teams were more innovative when compared with less diverse teams, after surveying 1,700 companies across varying locations and business sizes. Comparing revenue from products and services launched within the last three years, there was a 19% difference in revenue proportions between the two groups – a staggering amount.

This also highlights the need for diversity and inclusion programmes to extend beyond new hires. Enabling incumbent managers with the right information and tools to support and drive diverse hiring is something that we’ve been providing our client partners through our Inclusive Recruitment and Innocent Ignorance Training.

Missed market opportunities

The APAC region is defined by diversity – the world’s most populous continent houses over 4 billion people, who speak over 2,000 languages, giving rise to countless consumer opportunities. Not having a workforce that is at least representative of the geography will make entering new markets extremely difficult due to language barriers, a lack of cultural nous in product and service localisation, among others.

Not least is the element of consumer distrust – a foreign entity with no intention to create extraneous value outside of profit are under the spotlight, with people, now more attuned to corporate scrutiny than ever before.

Legal and reputational risks

Neglecting to establish a diverse hiring strategy can also lead to legal consequences, in times where governments endeavour to protect, support and empower local workers. For instance, more than 1,700 employers in Singapore have been placed on their state-led Fair Consideration Framework due to suspected discriminatory hiring practices.

As state actors race to retain talent through better employee protection schemes, the rules will only get more stringent – there is no better time than now to relook your Diverse Hiring processes.

Negative brand perception

Americans may be familiar with Chick-fil-A, a fast-food chain operating over 2,000 chains across the States. Unfortunately, their neighbours in Canada were familiar with them for a more insidious reason. Their contentious relationship with the LGBTQ+ community sparked boycott threats when they first announced their expansion into Canada - one of the worst possible ways to leave your mark in a new area of operations.

In today’s interconnected society where, underrepresented groups have a voice like never before, not following through on key inclusion promises is just the beginning of a vicious cycle – prospective diverse, and existing employee populations, may choose to work elsewhere, meaning your workforce becomes even less equipped to deal with diversity pitfalls and unconscious bias.

Erosion of competitive advantage

The symptoms above make a compelling business case for rethinking your diverse hiring strategies, but our last symptom seeks to highlight a crossroads that corporations find themselves in – one with traffic lights set to turn green at any time. Industry finds itself in a unique position where a growing number of consumers and candidates are attuned to recognise genuine iterations of diverse hiring and inclusive workforce design.

The direction you choose could well determine the future of your organisation in double time, as ED&I discourse and development continues to evolve at record speed. During an exciting time for underrepresented talent with opportunity like never before, companies can choose to grow their competitive advantage alongside their cause or fall behind.

Is diversity high on your list of hiring priorities, but not sure where to start or how to measure success? Our Diverse Hiring solutions have helped our global partners create deliberate, measurable and impactful diverse hiring outcomes. Explore our suite of award-winning Diverse Hiring solutions today, or contact our Diverse Hiring experts for an exploratory discussion and find out how we can significantly impact your diverse hiring recruitment goals.

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