How are you measuring EDI against business performance? What are the real benefits?

Apr 28, 2023Webinars and Blogs

There is a wealth of understandable enthusiasm for promoting ED&I in business, morally, ethically and also, and for business this is important, commercially too.  The question is, how strong is the evidence that ED&I is good for business? Where does that come from and what does it suggest? Then there are the practical ways of measuring it, how can this be done meaningfully? Can we trust organisations to say they are following ED&I? How would we know if they were or were not? This webinar will discuss:

  • What is the evidence base linking good ED&I practice to improved commercial performance?
  • How can good ED&I practice be measured?
  • How can we trust the measurements, or should we do so? 

Chair: Professor Martin Gill

Sarah Cork – EDI Chair, The City Security Council
Arevika Stepanian – Director of Corporate Relations, STM Group
Barbara Okumu – HR and Administration Manager, Lady Askari

Key points
Sarah Cork identifies a range of research studies all showing the different benefits for organizations engaging with ED&I including business ones, such as revenue and profit increases and improved staff morale. Sarah does not feel that there are real barriers to the wider adoption of ED&I although emphasises the need to raise awareness. Cultures are changing for the better; the journey is underway but it is not finished yet. Indeed, there is still a long way to go reflected, for example, in the low number of women working in the sector. Sarah accepts that emphasising the commercial benefits can attract the wrong people and hence the need for clear and appropriate communication. Moreover, there is a need to watch language, ensure job roles are fit for purpose and avoid the danger of reinforcing prejudices. Tenders generally emphasise the need to adapt ED&I sensitive policies and that has been a good driver.

Arrevika Stepanian argues that the benefits in adopting ED&I approaches are more than just commercial ones, important though these are. She highlights the ethical and moral arguments and references research that highlights how diversity improves performance. Measurement is key and you will hear Arrevika outline a number of ways starting with appropriate data collection facilitating the ability to track, for example, who gets promoted, and whether suppliers are meaningfully practicing diversity. The truth is that this is still a tick box exercise for some. Consulting staff, creating workplace engagement structures (such as setting-up a voice of women group, appointing an ED&I champion), and ensuring all staff feel valued are key routes here. Senior level support is crucial, that is a must; examples have to be set from hierarchies. 

ED&I is being taken more seriously by security associations now, and they are working together. Positive discrimination has a role, but this needs managing very carefully. 

Barbara Okumu in pointing to the benefits of ED&I includes references to 

improved customer satisfaction as well as better employee engagement. There is evidence customers seek out a good ED&I approach. The issue has been taken up by HR Executives ensuring that the messaging highlights ED&I as part of the core values and not just for profit. You will witness Barbara discuss some of the challenges that pertain to Kenya where sometimes the promotion of women is seen as a gimmick and discussing LGBTQ is still controversial. Barbara is still surprised by the level of push back there can be on these issues. Positive discrimination is not about appointing someone less suited to the job but when there are two people equally suited at that point choosing the one who is part of an underrepresented group. Security is behind other sectors, but it is making progress. 

An engaging webinar where the focus included the barriers to progress. All the panellists feel that things are moving forward positively, albeit that this movement has often occurred recently. Indeed, they also emphasise that there is still some way to go, in some countries more than others. We must heed their words; there are moral, ethical as well as commercial reasons for doing so. 

Professor Martin Gill
27th April 2023

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