Diversity, inclusion and why it’s essential for business

Office & Culture

Olivia McEvoy, Director of Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Services at EY held an engaging and informative workshop with Glandore Members this month, explaining some of the data behind Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and how companies can go further in their journey.

So, what’s the state of play when it comes to D&I in Ireland? Until just last year, we didn’t actually accurately know. Olivia, together with EY, conducted the inaugural survey of D&I in the Irish market with over 100 respondents, including C-suite leaders and HR Directors, across multiple sectors.

“An inclusive environment is vital for business performance.”

According to Olivia and survey findings, D&I simply makes sense from a business perspective. An inclusive and diverse environment contributes to talent acquisition and retention, fosters innovation, enhances team performance and collaboration, and is vital for business performance. In positive news, many companies do have an appetite to do more, they just don’t know what to do or how to do it.

Olivia says that, like every aspect of business, companies must invest time and resources into D&I strategies to see results. While it might seem like extra effort, she recommends that each company have a D&I champion working on diversity as a whole and not just on one strand of it. A structure must also be put in place whereby if the D&I champion walks away, those systems and strategies need to stay, assuming they have been put in place in the first place.

“Diversity attracts diversity – You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Statistics show that companies that are more ethnically and racially diverse are 35 percent more likely to outperform competitors. Furthermore, over 60 percent of companies say their enhanced reputation for inclusivity helps to acquire and retain talent. This reputation for D&I can also be beneficial to customer base and client perception, where seeing a diverse and inclusive approach can influence business decisions.

“Stand up if you have ever judged someone on the basis of their appearance.”

Olivia talked about the area of unconscious bias, which many of us may encounter, sometimes on a daily basis. She assured the room that we all have unconscious biasses, but awareness of such allows us to make better and informed decisions. Specifically referencing the recruitment process, Olivia pointed out that this unconscious bias may have taken place for some when interviewing potential candidates, where interviewers under pressure could make a split-second biased judgement.

Olivia made recommendations for us all on how we can combat unconscious bias, such as paying attention to our thoughts and feelings as well as preparing and managing reactions which could occur.

“It will not happen by osmosis.”

Where some people might be looking at D&I strategies saying “we haven’t thought of how we’re going to do this yet,” Olivia tells us to “fear not. You’re not alone.” According to Olivia, leaders need to be equipped to be inclusive leaders and we can’t just expect them to “just know how”.

For organisations not knowing where to start, EY’s D&I Culture Change Continuum outlines their roadmap for D&I success:

  1. Establish a baseline and cascade awareness
  2. Identify meaningful changes
  3. Recognise and reward role models
  4. Enable culture change

EY has a dedicated Diversity & Inclusion consultancy practice in Ireland, helping clients achieve their D&I ambitions. For further information on Diversity & Inclusion Advisory services, please contact: Olivia McEvoy, Director, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory – 

At Glandore, our members network provides the perfect environment for growing and scaling businesses. Click here to find out more.

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