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Not just ‘The Right Thing to Do’: Why Companies Should be Investing in Diversity and Inclusion
7th March 2019 By Hannah Christian

In 2019, many people are still challenged by difference. We know this because the evidence is everywhere: from the £3.2bn ethnicity pay gap in the UK, to the fact that disabled people are 31% less likely to be hired than non-disabled counterparts.

To make matters worse, some studies suggest that, rather than seeing the back of them, xenophobic tendencies are actually on the rise; with a 40% increase in the number of hate-crimes reported from 2017-2018.

As the spotlight continues to shine on diversity issues around the world, then, it’s little wonder that the government is under pressure to introduce legislation to tackle it. And even less that D&I is right back on the corporate agenda.

On a positive note, in 2018 we saw huge organisations like Netflix, and Uber make changes in their leadership for increased diversity. Big brands, for example, are increasingly shouting about inclusivity. Just look at Nike’s new ‘Dream Crazier’ campaign, which challenges unconscious biases around women in sport.

However, although important, the motivation for corporate clients runs much deeper than Government Legislation and brand values.

Increasingly, the switched-on companies are responding to a growing evidence-base, which is suggesting that the business case for creating an inclusive culture is stronger than ever. They understand that, when people from a range of backgrounds come together, they bring different perspectives, information, and worldviews; and by creating inclusive cultures that encourage people to feel safe and share their differences, firms can foster innovation and create more productive teams.

For example, a 2017 report from McKinsey and Company found that by increasing gender diversity in executive roles, firms were 21% more likely to achieve above-average profitability. Similarly, companies were 33% more likely to record above-average profitability if their executive roles had a higher proportion of cultural and ethnic diversity.

And it’s not just important to hire diverse teams. Ciphr cite LinkedIn’s global recruiting trends 2018 claiming that by fostering a feeling of psychological safety – aka belonging – businesses can allow employees to be their best selves at work. Deloitte, also, demonstrated that when employees believe their company supports and commits to a more diverse and inclusive work environment, they are able to express innovative ideas 83% more than in companies which don’t.

And, even more critically, employees have been found to leave if they feel they dis-included or unaccepted in their company.

Less and less, then, are businesses treating diversity and inclusion as just another mandatory compliance add-on, and more and more are they looking to add value through meaningful campaigns and content.

At Media Zoo we’ve been lucky enough to be creating content and changing behaviours around diversity for a long time. In 2014, the ‘Shape up to Diversity’ animation we created for M&S, won the Cannes Black award for Best Script. Right now, we’re working with two global companies on their Diversity and Inclusion programmes.

As a woman in a senior position, I’m acutely aware of the D&I mountain still to climb; and it’s truly inspiring to see the commitment from the top and to be a small part of the change these programmes can bring.

Diversity is something every company should strive for and building a place to work to be proud of should be top of the agenda. As a female leader at Media Zoo, I’m proud to work in a supportive environment with a mixture of people in senior roles and a woman in charge as Managing Director. And I’m in no doubt that our culture enables us to create more effective content to tackle stereotypes.










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