Insights for Organisations Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

How Diversity of Thought Can Solve Business Challenges

John Smith

Today businesses stand at a crucial point in history where building a skilled workforce has never been more important. A growing reliance on digital technologies has exacerbated an ongoing global skills shortage, further compounded by high attrition rates during the Great Resignation. With the global pandemic disrupting and changing the conventional ways of working forever, companies need an effective strategy to attract and retain talent. A diverse workforce is one of the key factors in attracting top talent. According to a recent survey, 83% of Gen Z candidates say that a company’s commitment to D&I is an important factor when considering an employer.

Whilst the ethical reasons for promoting diversity are obvious, something that is often overlooked is that a diverse workforce leads to diversity of thought, which in turn steers innovation and success.

What does diversity of thought mean?

Diversity of thought is a willingness to consider alternate ideas. This includes a number of things from – the kinds of people that a business can visualise doing certain roles within their teams to the different sources they tap into for recruiting talent. It is this diversity of thought that ultimately addresses business challenges and steers growth.

Diversity of thought broadens perspectives within an organisation and creates opportunities for a range of different mindsets, attitudes and approaches.

For the first time in modern history, there are five generations in the workforce. They are:

Each generation has its unique characteristics and motivations and managing this multi-generational workforce is a real challenge for businesses today.

Let’s consider some statistics:

Gen Z currently make up 30% of the global population and are expected to represent 27% of the workforce by 2025.

On the other hand, people over 50 are expected to make up 47% of the workforce by 2030, following on from a 36% increase over the last two decades.

The ChallengeThe Solution
Recruiting and managing a multigenerational workforce with diverse values and motivationsOvercoming biases and age stereotypes and focusing on individual merits

Yet, despite the stats that back up the present trend of multi-gen workforces as one that is here to stay, organisational response to the recruitment and management of diverse talent pools has been slow.

According to the 2020 Deloitte Human Global Trends report that surveyed over 9000 respondents across 119 countries, only 6% of workers strongly agree that their leaders are equipped to lead a complex multi-generational workforce effectively.

What is the challenge?

The main challenge is an organisational inability to manage multigenerational workforces with diverse values and motivations. Age has historically been one of the key metrics by which organisations view and build their teams. Career progressions, skills development and leadership programmes are almost always based on employees’ ages.

However, with the paradigm shift in the talent market, companies have to rethink the composition of their workforce. So now, traditional factors like age no longer remain the focus of talent acquisition strategies.

What is the solution?

Diversity of thought is a direct consequence of a robust D&I policy in the workplace. To achieve this diversity of thought, organisations need an overhaul of systemic biases and stereotypes and instead focus on individual talents and merits when building their workforce. They need to create a balance of opportunities for young people whilst also accommodating senior employees and optimising their skills and experiences.

Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, and twice as fast. Diverse teams also deliver 60% better results, maximising productivity.

At FDM we recruit graduates, career returners and ex-forces personnel and help launch thousands of careers in business and tech every year. Our consultants come from diverse backgrounds and age groups.

Building a diverse workforce is essential to a successful and productive work environment. Learning goes both ways and I believe that everyone has different skill sets and perspectives that can be taken into consideration when making business decisions. Furthermore, the team here at FDM really enjoy learning about other cultures, understanding people’s points of views. Even within the same country, people’s backgrounds can vary so much – so it is important to make sure that everyone feels included and feels valued.

David Stewart, Product Owner, Business Analysis Course, FDM Group

How to achieve diversity of thought?

Be open to new ideas

To build and promote diversity of thought, organisations need to be open to new ideas. This means actively listening to employees and taking their ideas on board for solving business problems. Not every idea will work, but it’s important for employees to know that their input is being sought and implemented. This is especially true for younger employees whose opinions can often get side-lined by those of their senior colleagues.

By being open to new approaches and mindsets, organisations profit from a wealth of diverse perspectives that they may not have otherwise considered. On the flipside, by having their inputs recognised employees and Gen Z in particular feel more invested in the company and are likely to be more interested in the business.

According to a Deloitte report, ‘If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.’

Encourage teamwork and collaborative working

The key to achieving diversity of thought within a multi-generational workforce is to encourage collaboration and teamwork. It’s important for different groups of employees to work as partners to avoid hierarchical siloes within departments.

Avoid stereotypes and unconscious biases

True diversity of thought can only be achieved when we start moving beyond pre-conceived notions and unconscious biases. For instance – assuming that a specific background and degree or a given number of years in work experience are mandatory for a candidate’s eligibility for a role, is a bias that harms both the candidate and the employer.

The candidate obviously loses out on a work opportunity whereas the organisation misses out on great talent.

Eloise Boye joined FDM with a background in social psychology. After completing her training in the Business Analysis graduate programme, she was placed with an international banking client where her job involves using digitalisation and automation to improve the HR experiences of employees within the organisation.

Describing her training experience at FDM, Eloise said:

‘The skills I learnt at FDM have been very important for the current project I’m working on. For example – we’re using a lot of business process models that we learnt in our week of BA foundation course and also Excel which has been very important for spreadsheet management. I’m also working directly with stakeholders in Singapore so the professional skills we learnt have helped in communicating and adjusting and managing their expectations.’

Encourage cross-generational mentoring

A healthy culture of cross-generational mentoring can be very effective in promoting a collaborative culture among a multi-gen workforce. For example – younger employees can mentor senior colleagues with social media usage and other digital skills, whilst experienced employees can train new recruits in other soft skills like stakeholder management and impart industry knowledge.

This reciprocal learning is a great way to create a culture of shared learning and unified growth.

Fostering diversity at FDM

At FDM, we continuously strive to foster an environment of inclusivity. With over three decades of experience in recruiting and training people, we can build diverse pipelines of talent who bring innovation and creativity to problem solving.

We train thousands of Gen Z consultants every year and continue to provide round-the-clock support to make sure that they have the right competencies to flourish in the workplace.

Our Business Analyst course proves to be particularly popular with Gen Z consultants.

Cynthia Brett joined FDM’s Business Analysis graduate programme in April 2022. Talking about her experience she said, ‘My training covered a tremendous amount about the tools and frameworks that a business analyst can use, scrum and the software development lifecycle, and software skills like Excel and SQL. I was speaking to a friend who’s been a BA for a few years, and she was particularly impressed that we learn SQL from the outset as it’s a piece of training she’s been asking for within her own role.’

Our Business Analysts are trained in Requirements Engineering, Business Process Modelling, Investigation Techniques, Gap Analysis, Stakeholder Management, Change Management and Benefits Realisation. They have the tech knowledge and the business aptitude to become the integral link between your teams and stakeholders. 

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