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There's no shortcut when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). ASIS International can only move forward as a global association with the participation of its global membership.

In late October, the ASIS Global DE&I Task Force launched the new DE&I Community on ASIS Connects, and on 10 December ASIS joined with the Security Industry Association (SIA) and event sponsor Microsoft for a free event designed to help security organizations and businesses around the world develop and implement DE&I strategies. You can view the replay of the sold-out event here.

The ASIS Blog sat down with ASIS Global Board Director and DE&I Task Force member M. Brian Reid, CPP, to further discuss these issues.

Q1: What are the benefits of DE&I to organizations?

It is important to note that those individuals and organizations interested in enhanced performance of teams, and improved decision-making process -- which has access to greater number of perspectives, experiences, and talents which allows more agile and comprehensive consideration of options – have supported DE&I initiatives for some time.

In 2017, BCG and the Technical University of Munich published research that afforded us a better understanding of the relationship between diversity in management and innovation. What they found with a geographic region was not only interesting but had global implications. Their findings highlighted that diversity, for example, is positively (and directly) tied to innovation; revenue earnings increased in diverse environments; innovation performance only increased when more than 20% of a company’s workforce were women in management positions; and, diverse management teams tend to create environments that welcome contributions of employees at all levels. The study also showed “that companies with the greatest gender diversity (8 out of every 20 managers were female) generated about 34% of their revenues from innovative products and services in the most recent three-year period. That compares with innovation revenues of 25% for companies that have the least gender diversity (only 1 in 20 managers were female).”  Furthermore, companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity—45% of total revenue versus just 26%.

Recently, McKinsey & Company released the report, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, which emphasized that inclusion and diversity in the workplace is a powerful “enabler of business performance.” The report goes on to add, “companies whose leaders welcome diverse talents and include multiple perspectives are likely to emerge from the (COVID-19) crisis stronger.”

In 2015, McKinsey highlighted how diversity is “probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.”

For instance, we now know, "companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians and companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry median."

Findings like these have opened a lot of people’s eyes to the power of creating diverse, equitable and inclusive work environments – if for nothing else, it makes good business sense.

I tend to look at it this way -- DE&I has a lot to do with the skills most managers want to see from their teams (i.e. listening, empathy, intellectual curiosity, and problem-solving); not to mention, issues like contributing to the bottom-line and innovation. The economic impact is undeniable.

Q2: What can an ally do to support DE&I?

One of the questions I hear most pertaining to DE&I is from individuals and organizations wanting to broaden their understanding of DE&I issues and get “involved” in some way with this issue.

The truth is, everyone can be an ally and be engaged in DE&I efforts – in formal and informal ways.

People should be reminded -- when we speak up when bias is displayed, mentor people from diverse backgrounds, encourage all voices to have space to better inform meetings, projects, and policies – we have positively contributed to DE&I efforts.

I think we often forget that we all have experiences others can learn from. Sometimes we forget the power we have to create change in our respective corners of the world. Being more mindful of our actions can be quite empowering and impactful. 

Q3: Where should we be in 5 years with respect to DE&I?

When I think of the where DE&I can lead us, I cannot help but first think about the consequences of not embracing DE&I through some form of commitment and action.

The Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters report, serves as a reminder about the impact of not embedding DE&I throughout our respective cultures on a global scale: “The likelihood of financial outperformance by companies with gender diverse executive teams climbs to a high of 47 percent in advanced economies that have high gender parity, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland, and Sweden. By contrast, the likelihood of financial outperformance by such gender-diverse companies stood at an average of 17 percent in lower-parity emerging economies such as Brazil, India, and Nigeria.” DE&I plays an important and relevant role in both advanced and emerging economies.

Lack of having a “DE&I mindset” within an organization, or society, can be interpreted as an indicator of a culture that is not agile (or ready) to pivot to meet the rapid change we all expect to continue throughout the 2020’s. That worries me most of all.   

Speaking from a position of hopefulness and opportunity, DE&I is a strong foundation from which to develop talent through leadership training. I firmly believe DE&I will have a significant role in leadership training and development for years to come. Developing a robust pipeline of global leadership helps everyone everywhere.

I also believe that the next five years will yield some significant research efforts and findings around DE&I. Data will continue to play a role in adoption of new DE&I efforts. I would also suggest organizations and teams begin setting up both short and long-term research efforts to measure key performance indicators, such as revenue, employee/customer satisfaction, and innovation and their correlation to DE&I efforts (and vice versa).