Diversity and inclusion should naturally form part of a business’s ethos during its ‘good days’. But in times of uncertainty, where companies are buckling under the financial strain while also shouldering a stressed workforce, these pillars of good business can further help steer organisations into safer waters.
In many ways, we are conditioned to believe there is one right way through which industries can thrive – such as working set hours and adhering to social norms. However, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been taught many valuable lessons. One being that the old and traditional ways of conducting business, while effective, may not be the only way forward any longer. Industries can remain equally operational and productive by working remotely, adopting technology as an additional tool and leaning into the diversity of its workforce.
Diversity of personnel equals diversity of thought and ideas, which is compulsory for a more effective approach in these unprecedented times and to achieve long-term financial stability and reputational longevity.
In a pre-Covid-19 existence, a diverse workforce was already proven to result in both a positive, stable work environment and a fruitful bottom-line for companies in comparison to other organisations who fail to make this pillar a priority. Now, while we learn to navigate through this new normal, where Covid-19 must be factored into every output, diversity is even more advantageous.
Laura Liswood, secretary-general, of the Council of Women World Leaders, writing for the World Economic Forum Covid Action Platform, says “Cognitive diversity – the numerous ways people think and carry their varied experiences – offers a spectrum of perspectives that can help organisations navigate this unprecedented economic and health collapse.”
Simply put, a company that already houses a diverse workforce is one step ahead of those that do not. The key now is to harness the power you have on hand through the process of inclusion.
Now is the ideal time to foster partnerships between employees who bring their own experiences and cognitive diversity to the table.
This could range from encouraging collaboration between older and younger members of the staff complement, to teams across different departments and from divergent socio-economic backgrounds, gender, ethnicity and education backgrounds. Encouraging collaboration on this level, creates an informal training space in which employees can share their expertise and exchange ideas to develop innovative solutions that yield positive results for the organisation and its clients. This has the added benefit of bonding team members, keeping them mentally active and ensuring the psychological safety of your workforce as they manoeuvre day to day work demands.
LexisNexis managing director Videsha Proothveerajh believes the answer lies with leaders of today becoming “comfortable with reduced hierarchy, which takes us close to the field, the shop floor and all levels of the organisation, gleaning valuable feedback to be incorporated into the organisation’s plans to continuously improve. The willingness to be collaborative and understand the value of diversity and inclusion as a business investment is a valuable skillset to hone.”
This is where open communication with every employee becomes essential.
We may all be in this together, but each individual within a team will have their own personal experience of dealing with this pandemic. Ensuring that all employees feel equally catered to and safe to voice their opinions is key.
About Gcobisa Ntshona, Human Resources Director at LexisNexis South Africa
Gcobisa Ntshona is accountable for driving the Human Capital strategy for the company. She has a proven track record of delivering business results through her strategic focus on value creation. She is a passionate and engaging leader with the ability to balance both strategic and tactical people management aspects. She has worked with different business executives across various sectors in South Africa and abroad. Her visionary approach will drive employee engagement and talent management with the aim of establishing LexisNexis South Africa as an employer of choice.
LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information and analytics that help customers increase productivity, improve decision-making and outcomes, and advance the rule of law around the world. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 130 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide, is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries.
In South Africa LexisNexis® has been assisting companies and professionals to remain abreast of changing legislation and shifts in the regulatory environment for over 80 years, combining the best of local knowledge in Butterworths with leading-edge tools and online solutions that have positioned the company as a pioneer of legal technology. LexisNexis South Africa’s business units include LexisNexis Legal Information and Compliance, LexisNexis Data Services, LexisNexis Business Software Solutions and LexisNexis Academic. South African investment firm, Tsiya Group acquired a minority interest in LexisNexis South Africa in July 2012.