Workplace diversity and inclusion is critical because it is demonstrably better for business. A workforce with a mix of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, or socioeconomic origin leads to a diversity of thinking, which in turn leads to increased creativity and innovation. According to experts, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative and get 2.3 times more cash flow per employee.
Hiring a diverse mix of people is the first step to achieving workplace diversity but eliminating institutional bias so that employees feel a sense of belonging and inclusion is what makes a diverse workforce truly powerful. Keeping employees safe and protected while cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce makes a business more resilient and reliable. Especially during extraordinary times, like the COVID-19 pandemic, companies need a holistic approach to worker safety and wellness embedded across operations to foster a culture that proactively manages risks to withstand current and future challenges.
Human rights are a focus topic among sustainable business leaders. Globalisation and outsourcing have created cost efficiencies, but this has come at the expense of visibility and transparency across supply chains. Without this visibility, organisations run the risk of damaging their own businesses when their suppliers’ practices are unethical or illegal. Issues range from unfair labour policies to human trafficking and forced labour. These issues impact every region, country, and industry. With heightened focus on global human rights issues, it is of utmost importance that sustainable business leaders get visibility across their own workforce and through their extended contingent and supply chain labour practices.
Sustainable businesses aiming to achieve zero inequality must provide equal opportunities for learning and skills development. The World Economic Forum predicts that 42% of jobs will require different skills in the next three years and over one billion workers will need reskilling by 2030.
The rapid pace of change requires companies to provide innovative content and opportunities that help create a culture of continuous learning. These flexible and open approaches to learning have proven business results at organisations around the world. By recognising the whole person, including their motivations, aspirations, interests, skills, and capabilities, companies can provide flexible, relevant solutions that provide individualised learning activities, mentors, special assignments, and more. They intelligently establish the best ways for people to reach their full potential – ultimately increasing their organisational agility, resilience, performance, and sustainability.
A sustainable business relies on intelligent and sustainable procurement – when organisations use their buying power to generate social value above and beyond the value of the goods and services being procured, therefore benefiting societies and the environment. Smaller and more diverse suppliers can lower supply chain risk. Diverse businesses are an essential part of larger companies’ supplier networks and play a crucial role in contributing to more equal, prosperous societies around the world. These include minority enterprises defined by gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. Working with these suppliers allows companies to use their everyday procurement spend in a way that changes lives, whether that’s creating jobs for vulnerable women, eliminating waste, or enhancing biodiversity.
Sustainable business leaders need to ensure that all relevant, potential suppliers have the fair and equal opportunity to compete for business within their supply chains. This can include micro, small, and medium enterprises, social enterprises, 'local' vendors, and enterprises that are minority owned for example, ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ+ people, armed forces veterans and people with a disability. Take action to increase the percentage of social businesses that are part of your established procurement network.
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