DTT – Diversity as a Business Strategy

Diversity as a business strategyHR functions have been proactively championing and pushing the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) agenda for a long time; but does it have the required buy-in from the rest of the business or is it still just a ‘tick-box’ exercise for many organisations?

It’s often easy to find yourself repeating the same practices out of habit without reflecting on their tangible outcomes and demonstrating the genuine value for undertaking them. But do we have a clear understanding of what we’re trying to achieve in the first place and why? Some businesses still don’t seem to have this clarity when it comes to D&I.

Viewing D&I as a business strategy, as opposed to an HR initiative, is absolutely paramount. The diversity agenda has to be weaved into the business’s ‘bigger picture’ plan and given the backing to determine meaningful and measurable aims and objectives.

These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Diversity Think Tank (DTT) held on Tuesday 8th November 2016 hosted at Capgemini by Maja Luckos (Head of People Analytics UK) and Laura Gardner (HR Manager and UK Diversity + Inclusion Lead) titled ‘Diversity as a business strategy’

The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Diversity professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

Obtaining that initial buy-in and backing from the business

During the event it became very quickly clear that the majority of people at the top of a company have probably never been prevented from progressing due to their sex, race or any of the other protected characteristics they might identify with. There’s therefore a large education element around getting them to view D&I from a different perspective and of course securing their buy-in.

Following this, it’s important to set some realistic goals, define a strategy and identify who your champion will be. This will help evidence to the business how committed you are to making a real change. Once it is embedded in the business strategy, hopefully everyone will come together to push in the right direction, rather than half-heartedly ticking a box.

Creating a framework to support the execution of the Diversity 

Knowing you have to create a framework is the easy part, actually executing that framework is a different ball game. Careful planning and setting measurable targets is paramount (I can’t emphasise the importance of this enough!) Know where you are before you start and where you need to be by the end. If you can get market data in regards to what other companies in your sector are achieving then this will help greatly. Resourcing Insight (Oasis HR’s sister company) will be able to help you gather this sort of information if needed.

Some of the things mentioned;

  • D&I Scorecards at every point
  • Engagement Surveys every 6-12 months (actually publish the results in a timely manner)
  • Training in regards to D&I (Mental Health Training, Disability Training)
  • Put your PSL on the same training (alongside your internal team) so they can get a better understanding of what you want and how you want to go about it.

Training in Diversity and Inclusion

I touched upon this earlier in the summary, but it absolutely needs further elaboration. If you work consistently with the same agency recruiters (particularly when it’s high volume) then ensure they’re included in any training roll-outs. Ask to send them on the same D&I training as your internal team. Feedback from recruitment business owners suggests that they would be fully on board with working alongside their clients to achieve their diversity objectives, particularly where there’s a higher volume of requisitions. However, for the one off roles it would be more difficult to commit to specific training and would depend on the role and time out of the office.

Implementing and sustaining the momentum of employee networks

Once the framework and targets have been decided, then comes the fun part of implementing the strategy and making sure that it has the legs to carry on and not just fizzle out. This is often tricky. Take for instance if you want to change the split of females to males. Will the males that already work for you think, ‘hang on a minute, I am pushing something here that has no benefit to me potentially, I won’t bother.’ This is why implementation is key and you need one person (or a team) responsible to make sure that all current employees are aware and on board with what you are planning and that they believe in the reasons behind doing so.  This will help encourage them to use their own network to achieve results and generally be more bought in. A good referral scheme will go a long way too.

Identifying key measurables and success indicators both internally and externally

One of the first things you’ll need to do is work out what you want to measure, and then assess what’s possible within the parametres of your HR or recruitment software. Resourcing Insight can support you through this exploration phase if required, and would recommend a workshop to help identify your key measurables. It’s a case of identifying what is needed, not what you feel is fashionable. Following this, we’d recommend benchmarking your internal performance against that of the wider market for a full sense-check.

Should all data be made transparent to the workforce?

This statement will always send shockwaves down Executive’s spines due to the potential backlash a business could open themselves up to. However if done in the right way, it could invigorate the workforce and help them rationalise what they do on a day to day basis. If you made statistics available regarding the gender pay gap, age, race, sex etc. would it make people more accountable and heighten a drive to improve what might be seen as a negative? It will take a pretty brave company to ever get to this point but would it be good or bad?


Diversity should always be considered when planning any business strategy, yet it is usually the last thing to be considered a lot of the time. Diversity should be looked at, at every stage of the process and be fully ingrained by everyone at the business starting from the top. To do this you need to have a defined strategy backed up by data which is actually measurable against certain targets. This data should be made available to all relevant parties in the business as it’s a business wide initiative after all, not just an HR ‘fad’.

Ryan Hallwood

Written by , Analytical Consultant

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