My definition of diversity at work is accepting, celebrating and learning from people of all backgrounds, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, religion, nationality, gender, or socioeconomic status. In other words, it means creating a culture where everyone feels valued and accepted without being compelled to conform.
According to studies, companies with more gender diversity are more likely to experience above-average profitability. This effect is heightened with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams. However, it is not sufficient to focus only on recruiting and retaining employees from underrepresented groups. It is essential to tap into their unique knowledge and experiences and learn how we could perform better.
Increasing diversity does not, by itself, increase effectiveness; what matters is how we harness diversity. It means not only applying the check-in-the-box principle of driving diversity but also understanding and leveraging diversity actively and reaping the benefits of a diverse workforce. In order to achieve this, the organization’s leader must be open to change, ready to rethink processes, and fearless in facing challenges.
As an industry, it is crucial for us to provide the right opportunities for all – flexible working hours, pay parity, career development plans, work-family balance, training and mentorship programmes
Creating an employee-centric environment and a real focus on human needs, we as leaders need to look for ways to help every employee feel welcomed, needed, wanted, valued, and that they have a genuine way to connect and contribute. When our employees feel like they belong, we get substantial bottom-line benefits. Diverse and inclusive companies are more adaptable, promote creative and innovative thinking, and attract additional talent interested in working in such an environment.
I am now the General Manager of Adagio Premium The Palm, with a team of 46 full-time employees from 17 different nationalities, with the women in my team constituting 40 per cent of the entire team.
The number of women in top management positions is still few, and it is a gap that needs to be filled. However, diversity is not limited to female advancement alone, so we must draw a fine line. The presence of women on management teams is linked to a more robust social commitment and a more participatory leadership style. Nevertheless, focusing on diversity requires us, as leaders, to look beyond evident gender disparities.
As an industry, it is crucial for us to provide the right opportunities for all – flexible working hours, pay parity, career development plans, work-family balance, training and mentorship programmes that will help individuals grow in their careers.
At Accor, we have programmes such as Riise, an international network that helps promote diversity and inclusion, where men and women alike are committed to values of sharing knowledge, solidarity and combatting all forms of stereotypes. Besides gender equality and diversity Riise also aims at inclusivity on all grounds leading to the emergence of mixed teams.
It is important to instil an environment where different perspectives are valued, and differences embraced. This also means educating, celebrating, understanding, and being sensitive and open to our differences.
It is positive to see businesses creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, but we must never lose sight of the human element. Every individual deserves respect, no matter what their background may be. In this way, we can start taking action as leaders today to create and maintain healthy cultures where we all feel genuinely welcomed and have meaningful opportunities.