Talent attraction and business profitability come back to diversity and inclusion
By Marina Horner, Head of People, WhereIsMyTransport
Diversity and the need for equity in the workplace
Diversity at work is an evolving concept related to different team member characteristics. While not an exhaustive list, the following characteristics are typically considered: race, ethnicity, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, neurodiversity, and nationality.
But true diversity goes beyond headcount. Diversity has a role to play in a business’s profitability, it affects the external perception of the business — its brand and reputation — and it is an important consideration for equity and fairness at work.
A diverse workforce gives traditionally marginalised individuals an opportunity to progress in corporate and leadership structures. In 2021, representation of women increased across all corporate levels (entry level to C-suite), yet women of colour still only account for 4% of C-suite leaders. While the representation of women has increased, men still dominate leadership positions which, according to McKinsey & Company, is due to women facing a broken ‘rung’ for the first step up to manager.
“For every 100 men that are promoted to manager, only 86 women are.” — McKinsey & Company
Attracting top talent requires diversity
Beyond the need for representation and equity in the workplace, diversity also plays a role in attracting top talent.
“That our decisions get sidetracked by biases is now well established. While it is hard to change how our brains are wired, it’s possible to change the context of decisions by architecting the composition of decision-making teams for more diverse perspectives.”-Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School Professor
Simone Stephens, Director of People at WhereIsMyTransport, also believes in the power of a diverse workforce, and the role of remote business operations in making this possible:
“We are fortunate to have access to talent that we would otherwise not have been able to reach, and the knowledge and skills of those entering this business helps us deliver the highest quality data to our clients, and produce innovative products that help people get where they need to go.”- Simone Stephens, Director of People, WhereIsMyTransport
At WhereIsMyTransport, we have teams across the globe, including the UK, South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, Germany, and Peru. In the markets where we offer mobility and location data, and our consumer product Rumbo, hyperlocal expertise is essential. And that expertise is made possible by the diversity of our people.
“Hyperlocal expertise is as much about people as it is about process, and in a future of increasingly globalised business, intercultural intelligence will be key for creating successful business models. People are at the heart of what we do, and the hyperlocal expertise of our team is what makes valuable services possible.”- Simone Stephens, Director of People, WhereIsMyTransport
Diversity and how it relates to inclusion
Diversity in numbers alone, without a culture of inclusion, falls short. While inclusion is related to diversity, it is not the same thing. Diversity refers to representation in the workforce — people with a range of characteristics — yet inclusion refers to how people of those groups are valued and integrated into the working environment.
In a survey by Deloitte, 80% of respondents considered inclusion important when choosing an employer, and 39% of respondents said they would leave their current employer if it meant joining a more inclusive workplace.
“For many millennials, inclusion is a non-negotiable in today’s workplace — an increasingly important factor for organisations to note, as millennials often change jobs approximately every two years”- Deloitte
Inclusion in practice in the workplace
At WhereIsMyTransport, we believe that inclusion needs to be a ‘red thread’ — this means building our business with inclusion in mind throughout, as a deliberate part of its design. Inclusion can’t be a second thought.
This starts with the seemingly small day-to-day practices: respecting people’s pronouns, being curious about cultural backgrounds, and seeking to understand each other’s points of views. An excellent example of such an initiative is the custom development of a Slack integration by our team. It allows our team members to upload a recording of their correct name pronunciation, accessible to everyone. For many of us, our names are a key part of our identities, and pronouncing them correctly matters.
Though we are a fully remote business, our team has the option of working in local co-working spaces and meeting up for occasional social events in each of the cities where we employ multiple team members. Underpinning all of these practices is our effort to actively and consciously put measures in place to create an environment where everyone can feel comfortable being their whole selves.
Inclusion, for us, is as much of a day-to-day practice as it is about bigger measures, such as inclusive succession planning. We believe that failing to get the day-to-day right holds back bigger initiatives.
That inclusion needs to be deeply embedded in your organisational culture is supported by Deloitte’s study. According to their survey, inclusion-related aspects of an organisation’s culture are employees’ top considerations:
- 47% of respondents prioritised: “An atmosphere where I feel comfortable being myself”
- 39% of respondents prioritised: “An environment that provides a sense of purpose, where I feel like I make an impact”
- 36% of respondents prioritised: “A place where work flexibility (parental leave, ability to work remotely, flexible scheduling, etc.) is provided as a top priority”
To attract and retain talent, it’s essential to look at the lifecycle of the employee experience — from hiring to working conditions. The focus should be on creating the conditions and overall workplace culture that encourage inclusion, while also developing ways to actively measure impact.
For example, people need to see that it’s safe to talk about mental health openly, that it’s completely normal to disclose that they’re neurodiverse and require adjustments, or that speaking in a non- native language may take longer to articulate a thought — and that’s okay. All of us need to make space for this. However, it’s particularly important that leaders in the business are vulnerable. There is no other way to build trust and show our team that being their full selves does not hinder their career progression. You need representation and ‘living proof’ — words are not enough.
“You need representation and ‘living proof’ — words are not enough.”
To ensure that inclusion doesn’t remain just a distant ambition, at WhereIsMyTransport we conduct surveys to understand psychological safety and feelings of belonging. Surveys are our tool of choice because they give an equal voice to everyone. Empowered by this information, we are better able to drive future initiatives based on what our team members are actually saying and feeling, rather than just a ‘gut feel’, or assumptions about what we think is right.
Flexibility, for us, goes beyond being able to work remotely, it’s about being flexible with workplace practices too and creating a space where we can have an open dialogue about it. If you want to know where to do better, you need to listen. And then action what you heard. And then talk about the actions you took based on these inputs. This is critical to show the team that it’s worth speaking up, and that they can drive change.
Profitability and the link with diversity
To remain competitive on a global scale and increase profitability, businesses need to ensure diversity in the workplace. According to another report compiled by McKinsey & Company, diverse companies are more likely than ever to outperform those that are less diverse.
In that analysis, McKinsey & Company found that executive teams that ranked in the top quartile for gender diversity had a 25% higher probability of having an above-average profitability than companies who ranked in the fourth quartile. This relationship between gender diversity and profitability seems to indicate a consistent upward trend — in 2014 it was 15% and in 2017 it was 21%. When considering ethnic and cultural diversity, executive teams that were in the top quartile outperformed their peers in the fourth quartile by 36%.
Diversity in leadership at WhereIsMyTransport
At WhereIsMyTransport, we are committed to growing diverse teams. We recognise that we still have work to do and a journey ahead of us — one that ensures our values of diversity and inclusion are reflected across all levels of our leadership structures. At the time of writing this blog post, our leadership team is made up of more than 10 nationalities, members of different ethnic and religious groups, 7 out of 15 members identify as women, and many more characteristics unique to them. Importantly, one in three of them were promoted to these roles from within our existing team.
As WhereIsMyTransport grows, so too does our diverse team that supports this growth. Diversity and inclusion are essential components of the culture at WhereIsMyTransport — we value different perspectives and are excited by the challenge and opportunity of change. We are also committed to understanding and owning where we’re falling short, and putting plans in place to ensure this is rectified.
At WhereIsMyTransport, our aim is to empower people living and working in emerging markets to get where they need to go. To do that, we need a diverse team. Do you want to pursue a career of impact? Join us! Explore careers at WhereIsMyTransport.