How to Build a Better Finance Team Using Diversity

Diversity Group

The recent Pride Month celebrations got us thinking about diversity and its important role in any finance and accounting team. In the workplace, bringing together employees with different backgrounds like LGBTQ and/or various cultures, perspectives, experiences, and skills helps create a more dynamic, flexible, and adaptable team that will have a range of tools and qualities to solve any problem.

Pride originated as a protest, a chance for the LGBTQ community to have a voice when society was otherwise silencing them. As society became more accepting, the LGBTQ community members finally had the chance to show their talents and skills. The Pride movement began to expand into cheerful, supportive parades, events, and celebrations that are an inspiring reminder that when you encourage diversity, and truly embrace it, powerful things can happen. However, for diversity to truly work for a team, it helps to have the following ingredients.

Buy-in from the Top

Leadership support for diversity is integral to making it work. A recent study found that, many times, those in senior positions feel that they’re doing enough to successfully implement diversity; but this is often not as true as they may think. According to the results of the study, there is “a strong correlation between perceptions of inclusivity and overall leadership effectiveness”, which means leaders who are not seen as championing diversity often don’t leave the best impression with employees.

Leaders who aren’t open enough about inclusivity, who don’t challenge themselves and their teams enough when it comes to creating a diverse workplace, could ultimately be seen as failing in their roles. Continually looking for opportunities to add diversity to a team, and following through on implementing changes based on those opportunities creates a more positive workplace and a happier, stronger team.

Other research has shown that while employers say they feel inclusivity is important to a business overall, the fact is that around 53% of LGBTQ workers are not open about who they are because they aren’t confident that they’ll be treated the same as other employees when there are no actual anti-discrimination policies in place. Ultimately, this can affect a company’s bottom line.

According to a UCLA study, 92% of companies surveyed that had anti-discrimination policies say that those policies have a positive impact on annual sales, as well as lead to better recruitment and retention of top talent. Companies that don’t support LGBTQ inclusion could see a hit to their sales, considering the global LGBTQ consumer market is approximately $3.7 trillion, not to mention the market value of the community’s supporters.

The potential for happier employees, increased revenue, and a more positive work environment are important reasons why those in leadership positions should step up and take notice of opportunities for diversity and inclusion practices.

Pro Tip: “How to Retain Top Accounting and Finance Talent” for more insight on what keeps employees engaged.

Broad Application

A survey published in the Harvard Business Review found a correlation between companies that implemented diversity and company revenue.

Companies which hired more diverse talent had happier and more productive employees. This also had driven greater innovation in the teams and increased the profits, compared to the companies which were less diverse.

The survey found that “the more dimensions of diversity were represented, the stronger the relationship was (between diversity, performance, and profit)”, which indicates that while including some diversity initiatives is great, companies can benefit far more by including the broadest spectrum of diversity possible in their team.

Ways to do this include things like hiring strategies that remove bias, training programs for cultural sensitivity, communication techniques that allow open dialogue about cultural differences, and HR initiatives such as inclusive benefits for same-sex partners. Broad application of diversity initiatives should include aspects such as race, gender, age, sexual preference, education, and industry background.

“Fundamentally inclusion is about productivity. It’s about getting the most out of your workforce, it’s about letting your employees be themselves … which ultimately will improve their profitability and shareholder’s value,” said Suki Sandhu, the founder of INvolve, an organisation championing diversity inclusion in businesses in his interview with The Guardian.

Working with a trusted recruiter can help find candidates with different backgrounds, attributes, and skill sets that perfectly meet a company’s needs. Hiring diverse candidates will only benefit the team if an employer also has inclusion policies in place that will allow people with different backgrounds and experiences to feel comfortable and be able to express themselves fully.

Read: “5 Things to Think About Before You Hire a Finance Recruiter” for tips on how to find the right recruiter for your needs.

Consistency

Talking about wanting to be more diverse is just the first step in making it happen. If real action hasn’t been taken, the feeling of inclusion hasn’t been achieved. Once diversity initiatives have been identified and planned, leaders should take steps each day to follow through on the intention of those initiatives.

It’s not enough to simply implement something one year and then walk away feeling like that’s all that will ever be needed. Diversity and inclusion should not be a side project or simple discussion, it must become ingrained in the company culture in order for it to really make a difference and allow people to feel comfortable, open, and heard.

The world is ever-changing, and staying on top of movements and social shifts can give a company the competitive advantage when it comes to its diversity and how its commitment to inclusivity is perceived.

Read: “What 11 CEOs Have Learned About Championing Diversity” to learn more about what it takes to make diversity a real focus in an organization.

Employee Input

A diversity plan or strategy that is shared with everyone in the company can help get the ball rolling. Meetings can focus on what ideas are on the table so far, and can be a great opportunity to get input from all team members to ensure that everyone has a say and that they feel well represented.

When gathering team members to discuss diversity initiatives, try to channel some of the electric energy that is highlighted every year during the Pride Week celebrations to help them get excited about making strides when it comes to creating a more inclusive environment, a more open communication channel, and a more supportive team.

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure leaders champion the diversity initiatives and lead by example.
  • A leader’s effectiveness is strongly linked to fostering inclusivity.
  • Include as many dimensions of diversity in the workplace as possible.
  • Diversity can improve employee performance and increase the innovation.
  • A more inclusive environment can positively affect a company’s bottom line.
  • Work with a trusted recruiter to help find diverse talent.
  • Diversity initiatives require real action to make a difference.
  • Rather than treat diversity like a project, consider it part of company culture.
  • It’s important to stay up-to-date on the changing aspects of diversity.
  • Getting employee input on diversity lets them feel heard and respected.
  • Inclusivity means employees feel comfortable expressing who they are.

 

Your Next Step

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