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Business Assurance - ViewPoint

Are companies taking advantage of diversity & inclusion?

Using ISO 30415 to build a better Diversity and Inclusion system

Our latest ViewPoint survey on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) reveals few companies report deployment of tangible actions in a structured way. This indicates that most companies are early in their journey. To truly drive future efforts, companies could benefit from using the ISO 30415 standard to build a better D&I system.

There is increasing awareness of the business case for diversity and inclusion (D&I). As per McKinseyi, ethnically diverse organizations are 36% more likely to outperform companies that are less diverse, while gender diverse companies are 25% more likely to outperform the less diverse companies. According to Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) diversity & innovation survey 2017ii, companies with more diverse leadership teams report higher innovation revenue.  

In her book Which two heads are better than one?iii workplace expert on diversity, leadership and culture Juliet Bourke enumerates the benefits of an inclusive culture saying organizations that have embraced inclusivity are: 

  • Two times as likely to meet or exceed financial targets 
  • Three times as likely to be high-performing 
  • Six times as likely to be innovative and agile 
  • Eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes 

It is therefore not surprising that companies are looking to take advantage of D&I but are often unsure of where to begin and what is involved. There is however some excellent guidance available in the form of the standard ISO 30415 Human resource management - Diversity and inclusion. Published in May 2021, so possibly not yet on the radar of many organizations, ISO 30415 is a guideline, offering a systemic approach to developing a diverse and inclusive organisation. It helps to develop an inclusive workplace, requiring an ongoing commitment to address inequalities in organizational systems, policies, processes and practices.  

The ISO 30415iv; standard provides a framework that every organization can adopt for ensuring D&I in their processes. Specifically, it throws light on the entire employee life cycle and how each part can be reviewed using the D&I lens. This covers the internal processes as well the external partners across the supply chain, providing a comprehensive framework encompassing all important aspects.  

For organizations keen to incorporate the UN’s Nations Sustainable Development Goals into their management systems, the standard is very relevant to the following goals:

  • 5. Gender Equality 
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 
  • 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 
  • 10.  Reduced Inequality and is guided by the principles of human rights at work

Across its 11 clauses, the standard presents fundamental prerequisites for D&I from associated accountabilities and responsibilities, recommended actions, suggested measures and potential outcomes. These are critical aspects without which the success of D&I initiatives cannot be sustainable. Any systemic change requires action at all levels. There is a need for a systemic advocating and championing of the D&I agenda through multiple channels, before the momentum picks up and D&I can reach a tipping point to become a self-sustaining movement. In addition to the requirements the standard provides companies a step-by-step approach to implementing D&I depending on where they are in the journey.

The overall objective is to think about the entire employee life cycle from the D&I perspective. This begins with workforce planning and progressing through remuneration, recruitment, on-boarding, learning and development to performance management, succession planning, workforce mobility and finally cessation of employment. It is not about re-inventing the wheel or creating new policies. It is more about looking through current policies from the perspective of diversity and inclusion and integrating D&I into the way of doing business.