Diversity is a familiar term, but what does it actually mean on a practical basis for business and, more specifically, for finance functions?
The term ‘diversity’ can relate to innovation, inclusion and access, but a true understanding can be elusive in relation to changing cultures and behaviours, and having meaningful engagement.
As part of a continued collaboration to encourage independent, high-quality research that informs and shapes business, ACCA and ESRC have run a series of projects to explore the issues surrounding diversity in business.
This paper presents the work of the latest project in this series, The business case for diversity management - a research report commissioned by ACCA and ESRC from Brunel University, alongside excerpts from interviews conducted with diversity and finance leaders for this research.
It also draws on the expertise of diversity and inclusion specialist Nikki Walker from More2Gain and looks back at some earlier joint work in this area.
The paper looks at the limitations of current diversity management, and at what could be done to help organisations benefit most rapidly from greater diversity and inclusive cultures.
In particular, it considers the role of the finance function in helping gather relevant financial and non-financial data and developing and implementing diversity strategies, policies and procedures.
It considers different approaches to constructing the business case in organisations, and motivations behind diversity policy and its relationship with business performance.
It also presents practical recommendations for organisations wishing to develop their own business case for diversity management.
Making a robust business case continues to be the first step in organisational commitment to diversity management; it appears that having a diverse workforce alone is insufficient to reap the business benefits of diversity.
Studies have produced mixed findings. The conclusion is that it is the effective management of diversity that makes the difference, so it is important to look at the links between diversity management and organisational performance.