As the millennials move into leadership roles in organizations, they expect to find
more emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This change in attitude requires sensitivity at the highest levels of leadership in an organization. To track whether business leaders are actually implementing change and not just paying lip service, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School conducted the 2016 Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development Survey. The survey results are worth a look if this topic is a challenge for your organization.
According to the survey findings, leaders who are charged with establishing their organization’s attitudes and behaviors toward diversity and inclusion must be culturally sensitive and possess the following qualities:
- Willingness to collaborate 71%
- Flexibility 55%
- Comfort with ambiguity and change 54%
- Appreciation of difference 53%
- Openness 51%
The commitment to diversity and inclusion must go beyond having a leader or two proclaim an organization’s commitment to change. Employees need to see progress toward stated goals. As evidence of progress, leaders are generally trying to recruit diverse hires (60%). Once these folks are part of the organization, leaders must also make the effort to offer them development opportunities (42%) and engage them by inviting them to participate in a variety of initiatives which will increase their visibility in the organization (37%.)
88% of business leaders agree they must improve their diversity and inclusion competencies to ensure their long-term success. In the survey, the following percentages of leaders acknowledge that failing on this front will negatively impact them as follows:
- Attracting top talent 73.2%
- Improving organization culture 70.7%
- Employee retention 68.3%
- Innovating 59.8%
- Improving collaboration 59.8%
Over half of business leaders note their organization needs to improve the progress being made toward D&I goals. Part of the problem stems from roadblocks like failing to define what they mean by a culture of inclusion, failing to set aside resources to define the culture and failing to put specific programs in place to support the initiative.
If this sounds like your organization, you may want to make D&I a higher priority in the coming months.