Diversity is your digital age superpower

Why leading companies are using mentoring and development programs
to improve career prospects for everyone

While the title of this blog is deliberately a bit ‘tongue-in-cheek’, the point we want to make is serious. As digital transformation impacts everything in its path in both our personal and work lives, the best leadership teams understand that their people are their greatest asset. They also understand that the more diverse their teams, the better their business will perform.

These leadership teams are actively putting inclusive mentoring and development programs in place to give employees the support and development they need. That includes a specific focus on unlocking opportunities for traditionally underrepresented talent.

From policies to action

The last 12 months have seen a fundamental shift in our approach to diversity and inclusion. Spurred on first by the rise of #MeToo and then the #BlackLivesMatters movement, company leadership teams—and their stakeholders — are finally shifting from making policies into taking material action with one clear objective: Create a more diverse workplace where everyone is valued and everyone is given the same opportunities for career development.

Nowhere is this more true than in the technology sector. With a history of highly public missteps and unfair practices, technology leaders—and the wider technology ecosystem—are waking up to the need to effect real change. And the pressure to do so is mounting from beyond their boardrooms. In December 2020 Nasdaq announced new rules that will likely require companies listed on their exchange to have at least two directors with diverse backgrounds—or explain why not.

People are a company’s key competitive advantage in the digital age

The most successful companies and their leadership teams have long recognized the value of a diverse workforce. They know that giving everyone an equal opportunity and building a truly diverse organization is the right thing to do. They also understand that diverse organizations deliver a real competitive advantage for their business. A BCG study directly correlates increasing diversity with more innovation and higher EBITDA. And a recent analysis by Nasdaq shows an association between diverse boards and better financial performance.

Companies like Airbnb are now acting on the diversity agenda by publicly committing to ensuring that 20% of its US workforce will be from underrepresented minorities by 2025, and half of its employees worldwide will be women.

These leaders recognize that in the digital age it’s their people that are the fundamental difference in achieving success. And, based on the evidence, the more diverse their workforce, the greater their success will be.

Mentoring and development is a key strategy for building inclusive organizations

The best companies’ initiatives go beyond ensuring fair representation by hiring outstanding talent from diverse backgrounds. Critically, they are also committing to retaining and developing their talent so that everyone has the opportunity to realize their potential, no matter what their background. In one example, the talent team at Box, the highly innovative cloud content company, recently launched a mentoring program specifically focused on helping improve opportunities for traditionally underrepresented talent.

The stats directly support the benefits of mentoring and development as a key employee-focused strategy. A Sun Microsystems study found that the average retention rate for people that have been through a mentoring program is 72%. That’s nearly 50% higher than those who haven’t been given that opportunity. Minorities and women experience significant increase in promotions, from 15% to 38% according to a Cornell Study. And the same study found that mentoring programs produce employees that are more highly valued by the business.

To find out more about how forward-thinking companies and their leadership teams are building more inclusive organizations—and working to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed—read the Box case study or contact us to chat.