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Davos 2019: Creating a More Diverse Workplace

Bain Partner Michael Garstka discusses how increasing workplace diversity boosts customer loyalty and employee retention.


Davos 2019: Creating a More Diverse Workplace

Creating a more diverse workplace can attract a more diverse customer base, which often involves removing leadership's unconscious biases. Michael Garstka, managing director of Bain UK, discusses how leading companies support diversity and inclusion efforts.

Read the transcript below.

MICHAEL GARSTKA: Diversity and inclusion: it's a social issue and it's a moral issue, but it's also a critical business issue. Some of the conversations we had today highlighted that a diverse workforce enables you to identify, attract and win a diverse customer base, which from a business perspective, helps drive the top line. Equality of pay in a meritocratic organization, again, is not something that's just nice to have. It drives better loyalty and retention of women and other diverse customer groups.

Bringing a hardnosed analytic approach is also critical. To figure out where you're going to focus and how you're doing, you really need to understand, what [are] the percentages of women and other diverse groups that you're getting into your applicant pools, that you're screening, that you're hiring? What's your relative retention rates, your promotion rates? How many women and other diverse groups are you getting into your executive organizations? Like any other business problem, you have to set targets, you have to measure performance, you need to monitor and you need to change.

In addition to the hard business metrics, this is also a softer change-management issue, because at its heart, it requires behavioral change of individuals within the organization. And here, there's a set of proven tools and techniques for any transformational change. It requires sponsorship from the top, chief executive or a business unit managing director.

Of course, it's important to have a chief diversity officer. But if that's where the program sits and it's not owned by the chief executive, then it quickly loses momentum, and it's not seen as something that's critical to the business.

Unconscious bias was another topic that we talked about. But an interesting part of the discussion was that this is not just a theoretical concept, and it's just around training. It's actually taking bias out of specific business processes, whether it's recruiting, whether it's feedback, whether it's promotions, and that requires leadership from the top and ownership all the way through the line.

And finally, programs are important, whether it's flex working, sponsorship, mentorship. But an interesting part of our discussion today is that unless these programs are equally available to men and women and have take-up by both, they don't have the same buy-in, and they're seen, again, as women's programs as opposed to core business and talent programs.

More Bain insights on Diversity & Inclusion and Gender Parity >


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