Why should diversity and inclusion be at the heart of every organization?

Talking about diversity is all well and good, but the best thing is to put it into action. For our first initiative in the “field” a few weeks ago, The Hoffman Agency France welcomed a 3rd year high school student for an observation internship. This is a one-week internship where a 14/15-year-old discovers the world of work for the first time.

Hands of diverse skin tones forming a heart

Organized by the association ViensVoirMonTaf, the ambition is to give young people in priority education the opportunity to access the internship of their dreams, or at least one in line with their career aspirations. The results of this initiative speak for themselves: 4 out of 5 students increased their academic ambitions and declared that they had gained self-confidence thanks to their internship. 

It’s a good start, but let’s face it, there’s still a long way to go. The McKinsey/Le Club du 21ème siècle study entitled “Encouraging sociocultural diversity within French companies” has a surprising finding: Only 38% of French managers have parents who do not come from a CSP + background. As for HR software company Workday, it reveals that only 54% of French companies have embraced diversity. 

And that’s surprising when you think about it because beyond stimulating growth, organizations that embrace diversity often tend to perform better financially than those that don’t, as inclusion brings multiple benefits. On closer inspection, companies could easily learn that relying on a diverse, multi-disciplinary team brings competitive advantages in the job market. 

A better working atmosphere and more creativity

Particularly from the point of view of employee well-being, diversity and inclusion contribute to creating a work environment where employees feel respected, valued and included. Every employee can find their place and develop the skills they are good at. Working in a positive climate provides a sense of pride and belonging and ultimately strengthens the attractiveness of the employer’s brand.

On the same theme of employee well-being, an inclusive system serves as a remarkable catalyst for creativity.

It is difficult to deny that we’re all different… Diversity exists and should be seen as a strength. The diversity established within a company encourages constant renewal, provides access to better business opportunities and generates a great pool of talent. Because wherever you work, you need to embrace change and allow innovative, creative ideas to emerge. A team with diverse experience and perspectives is more likely to come up with innovative solutions.

Redefining corporate culture

Setting up a committee dedicated to diversity and inclusion is a good first step, but any action shouldn’t be limited to the committee only.

Even if HR has an initial role to play, all the company’s stakeholders need to get involved, from managers to employees. It is a corporate project that needs to be on the board team’s agenda to reflect this approach throughout the organization. Diversity must be much more than an employer brand communication tool to attract more talent. It must be embodied daily. Caroline Ramade, founder of the 50 in Tech organization, which advocates for more women in the tech sector, insists, “Managers have a key role to play in this process.” In France, for example, Agathe Monpays was appointed as the new director of French giant Leroy Merlin last year at just 28 years old. A fine step forward, but still a long way from exemplary parity.

An opportunity for growth

This new experience marked the beginning of an ongoing journey of learning and growth for the Hoffman Agency. Every day, we challenge ourselves to demystify our clients’ topics: making complex topics accessible and appealing. But this time, instead of doing it for a customer, we had to use our creativity to explain our business to an inexperienced young person. It was fascinating to see our daily work in a completely different light and to try to make it as captivating as possible. It enabled us to gauge our ability to simplify complex concepts, confront a new critical perspective and further explore our ability to adapt.

Those initiatives are driven by our desire to create a place where it is possible to empower individuals to reach their full potential but also contribute to the overall success and innovation of our organization. Nowadays, individuals are placing greater emphasis on working for organizations that align with their ethical standards. Employees are increasingly paying attention to corporate social responsibility, which plays an important role in the company’s brand as an employer. Consequently, a strong engagement has become a pivotal factor in attracting and retaining top talent. With many tools available to encourage and facilitate companies to get involved, isn’t it time for companies to proactively embrace diversity by driving positive change both within and beyond the organization?

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