A harmonious team is a true strength. Research into team dynamics and performance has found that diverse and inclusive teams make better decisions and are more innovative.

Our colleague, Julie Coffman, Bain & Company’s first Chief Diversity Officer, recently outlined in her article “Making Progress on DEI: Why Inclusion and Metrics Matter Most” how much employees, investors, and consumers all value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Regulators are also focused on this issue.

Unlocking the full value of a diverse team or workplace requires creating and fostering an inclusive culture. That’s a culture in which everyone feels they belong, is treated with dignity, and is encouraged to fully participate as themselves, as Julie explains in a second piece she recently coauthored, “The Fabric of Belonging: How to Weave an Inclusive Culture.”

This is a global movement. However,  whats effective in Europe will vary in some ways from what works in Latin America, where I worked before moving back to Europe. And the US is different still. The principles of inclusion and valuing diversity are 100% relevant in all locations, but the context is a bit different depending on where you are.
Living and working in many parts of the world has taught us that, although there are differences, there are important commonalities. Julie describes three specific actions can help any company hoping to progress on these issues wherever it operates:

Set a holistic DEI ambition.

Successful DEI strategies focus both inside and outside an organization’s four walls. They include an equitable talent journey, an inclusive culture, and fair wages and benefits, as well as strong external engagement in the marketplace and in the community. For all aspects of your ambition, ensure that you have explicit goals and tangible metrics to measure progress. We recently released our first DEI report at Bain, in which we shared goals for our people, our business, and our community.

Listen to all of your stakeholders, focusing on amplifying marginalized voices.

Studies have shown the enormous value of employee listening (for example, employee engagement surveys). At Bain, we look at sentiment data through various demographic and intersectional cuts and share results with leaders across the firm. Your external stakeholders also require the same effort to listen. It’s important that the marginalized groups you are working to better support are a central part of any design teams seeking to make change, whether you’re redesigning an employee onboarding process or creating a new marketing strategy.

Remember that DEI is a journey and not a destination.

DEI is different from other transformations—it is deeply personal, it’s inherently subjective, and it’s difficult to know the end state. Making progress on DEI often requires going slow to go fast; taking the time to deeply understand the challenges, fully define the problems, and recognize the highest impact opportunities is critical. Meaningful change will take continued focus, effort, and time.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion matter. They make organizations stronger and more agile, and in today’s rapidly changing business environment, they are more important than ever before. Leaders seeking meaningful progress, whether in Portugal, Europe, US or Latin America should thoughtfully apply universal principles to their specific cultural and strategic circumstances.

Have a great and impactful week!

David Michels and Clara Albuquerque
Bain & Company´s Partners

This article refers to edition #168 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter and covers SDG 10.
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