In celebration of Heritage Month, 22 on Sloane hosted a Startup Huddle titled ‘The importance of Managing Diversity in Your Workplace’ with 3 amazing women who all shared background knowledge and their experience on diversity management. Our panellist consisted of; Ms Sindiswa Mzamo, President of the Circle of Global Business Women, Ms Lidia Rauch, The founder of Bloom Enterprise and Ms Zani Mashinini, the Head of Talent Management at Absa Group.
Startup Huddle is an experiential learning opportunity which offers a unique programme designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. Startup Huddles are important because they serve as a safe space for entrepreneurs to share and identify challenges that block their progress. Furthermore, this will help startups avoid and tackle challenges allowing them to take advantage of new opportunities. This month’s huddle aimed at unpacking: The importance of Cultural Intelligence in the workplace, how diverse teams are beneficial to an organisation and lastly, ways to implement organisational systems and practices to manage diversity.
The modern global economy needs organisations to work with people from different cultural backgrounds daily. The growing diversity of the workforce can either be an asset or a liability depending on how well its managed. This can help organisations reach diverse markets more efficiently when used strategically and when combined with cultural intelligence. Managing this diversity means planning and implementing organisational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximised while its potential disadvantages are minimised.
There is substantial research that indicates that diversity has many advantages to an organisation such as increased profitability and better problem-solving abilities. Furthermore, employees with diverse backgrounds bring their perspectives, ideas and experiences which will help create organisations that are more resilient and effective which will in turn outperform organisations that do not invest in diversity. According to a study which was conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. This finding is valuable to startups where innovation is key to growth because it shows that diversity is important to a successful revenue-generating business.
The problem which was identified is that most organisations often have a mismatch between how diversity policies are designed and how they are implemented. This can be solved by:
· Understanding the need and goal of the policy
· Do not try to duplicate other organisation’s policies because every organisation is unique, therefore, every diversity initiative needs to be unique as well
· A well-designed policy is important however, the implementation process is more vital. Creating policies for employees who do not have the tools or motivation to implement it is a recipe for disaster
· Every successful policy answers the basic question: ‘why should I do this’ because If employees cannot see the benefits of this policy then it will fail
A key take-home from this Startup Huddle was that workplace diversity can take your company results to success and that it is important to leverage all the advantages of workplace diversity.
Mahlatse Tolamo is the Ecosystem Enabler at 22 On Sloane.