Why do we care about diversity?

Nowadays, diversity can be a bit of a buzz-word. Companies across the country say they are committed to “increasing diversity,” but what does that mean - and why is it important?

Workforce diversity refers to the composition of the varying characteristics of employees, including, but not limited to, religious and political beliefs, gender identity/expression, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and geographic location. However, the majority of discussion surrounding workplace diversity at present focuses on racial and gender diversity.

Anecdotal evidence tells us that diversity is helpful in team environments — an assortment of perspectives from a variety of backgrounds can help groups consider outcomes and alternatives they might not have considered from the outset of a project.

But, the greater question is, what does diversity look like, and what are the quantitative impacts of it?

Taylor Cox Jr. is a leading expert on cultural diversity, and identified six dimensions of a multicultural organization:

1. Full structural integration is achieved when all demographic groups are adequately represented within various organizational levels, functions, and work groups.
2. Integration in informal networks occurs when all organizational members have equal access to and are included in social and informal networking activities.
3. Low cultural bias is evident in organizations where steps are taken to identify and eliminate discrimination and prejudice in the workplace.
4. Intergroup cohesion is observed when the organization achieves an optimal level of conflict involving work tasks, while minimizing conflict due to social identity group differences, such as race and gender.
5. Acculturation refers to the method by which cultural differences are resolved in organizations. Cox argues that acculturation should involve a two-way process in which minority and majority group members have some influence on organizational norms and values and minority group members are not expected to assimilate or shed their identity when coming to work.
6. Finally, Cox suggests that a multicultural organization may be characterized by the extent to which organizational identification occurs for all employees.

By this point, we understand what diversity is. But, what’s the value of diversity? I’ve taken some of the studies I found the most interesting and summarized them below:

A study conducted by Cedric Herring at the University of Illinois at Chicago, concluded that “racial diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits.” In addition, the report determined that “gender diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits.” His work contrasted companies with the highest and lowest levels of racial diversity, realizing that companies with the highest levels of racial diversity had an average of 15 times higher sales revenue than those with the lowest levels. (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/asa-rld033009.php)

Credit Suisse’s Research Institute released a report in 2016 looking at female board membership and its reflection on investment returns. Over a 6 year period, looking at large cap ($10b+) stocks, CS researchers revealed firms with women board members outperformed those with purely men by 26 percent. Likewise, small-to-mid cap stocks where women served as board members outperformed their all-male peers by 17 percent. (https://www.credit-suisse.com/corporate/en/articles/news-and-expertise/higher-returns-with-women-in-decision-making-positions-201610.html)

Finally, McKinsey’s Diversity and Financial Performance report identified that companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards worldwide are 43% more likely to experience higher profits. (https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/organization/our%20insights/delivering%20through%20diversity/delivering-through-diversity_full-report.ashx)

Clearly, diversity matters. The last question is, how can we measure and promote it in organizations?

The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion has created a method of measuring the “Return on Investment of Diversity and Inclusion” (https://ccdi.ca/media/1071/ccdi-report-what-gets-measured-gets-done.pdf). Some of the key findings from the report detail the fact that it is not simply enough to have a Diversity & Inclusion program; rather, in order for diversity to positively impact an organization, there need to be systematic incentives in place to demonstrate impact that are tied to strategic goals.

Check out the data from our Diversity survey that was conducted this semester to understand what diversity looks like at Ivey, located in HBA1 classrooms!

By: Grant McNaughton

Innovation for All

Innovation for All

How can we ensure that no one is left behind as emerging technologies are implemented into the workforce at an increasingly rapid pace?  

We have all heard of artificial intelligence, machine learning or neural networks at some point over the last couple of years, however, these are more than just futuristic buzz words. As these technologies become more advanced, an increasing number of workplaces are integrating them into daily operations to eliminate simple, repetitive tasks. The impact of this shift, coupled with a rapidly changing global workplace could potentially create an even greater skills gap, resulting in significant social inequalities if adjustments are not made now to protect the economic viability of our communities. 

Over 100 artificial intelligence experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have predicted that within the next 15 years, half of the trucks on the road will be able to drive themselves and within 25 years robots will be able to complete most of the management tasks at Fortune 500 companies.[1] Although it is difficult to accurately predict the impact of these new technologies, it is clear that the rate of change is increasing faster than ever and the repercussions will be felt across a wider range of industries and at a deeper level than initially expected. 

As occupations continue to be augmented by technology. or completely removed, the skills needed to remain employable will continually involve. Those facing the most pressing risk from the adoption of these technologies are workers that currently hold roles that can be easily automated.

For employees that don’t have the ability to benefit from additional formal schooling, skills retraining or switching industries, the impact of automation could be devastating and potentially widen both the gender and skill gap that is already a complex challenge consuming today’s leaders.[2] Due to the economic diversity of Canada, there will also likely be an uneven distribution of these risks across the diverse regions of the country. Currently, 46% of “work activities in Canada have the potential to be automated across all industries” which is the equivalent of 7.7 million jobs.[3]

Despite the (justified) anxiety surrounding automation of the workplace, there is still time to prepare. Many experts in the field, such as Krista Jones from MaRS Discovery District, are calling for changes in policies to prepare for this drastic shift. Beyond providing basic minimum income, a more reactive approach, Jones states that “we need policies that promote life-long learning and more incentives for businesses to retrain staff rather than hiring new employees”.[4]  Institutions need to start shaping the mindsetsof current and future leaders so as to promote and encourage lifelong learning and the ability to adapt, as opposed to encouraging the need for safety and stability. 

This continual, and inevitable, encroachment of new technology into the global workplace must not be looked at as a threat, but be welcomed and embraced as a tremendous opportunity. Government, business, institutional and community leaders must work together to develop a strategy that will insure that full advantage can be taken from these new technologies while protecting the workforce.

By: Nicole Plant 


Sources:

[1]Dreyfuss, Emily. "Hate to Break It to Steve Mnuchin, But AI's Already Taking Jobs." Wired. June 03, 2017. Accessed September 20, 2018. https://www.wired.com/2017/03/hate-break-steve-mnuchin-ais-already-taking-jobs/.

[2]Schwab, Klaus, and Richard Samans. "The Future of Jobs." World Economic Forum.

[3]Lamb, Craig, and Matthew Lo. "Automation Across the Nation: Understanding the Potential Impacts of Technological Trends across Canada." Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, June 8, 17.

[4]Jones, Krista. Preparing Adult Workers for the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. April 7, 17.

Thinking Globally

As an Ivey student, I often reflect on whether Ivey’s stated mission is being fulfilled in my education. Although Ivey has set out to “develop business leaders who think globally, act strategically, and contribute to the societies in which they operate”, I believe that Ivey cases can only teach so much, and students therefore have a large responsibility to ensure they develop in a way that meets our school’s goal.

One of the pillars of this mandate is thinking globally. Combining the constant tug-of-war between nationalism and globalization with the ever-increasing impact of the Global North on the Global South[1], being a “global thinker” is now, more than ever, essential to sustainable and ethical business leadership. However, in order to really understand the global stage and the effects one’s business decisions may have on others, business leaders must adopt a perspective that recognizes and respects the context of all stakeholders. In essence, “thinking globally” means being an Ally. 

Allyship “is a practice of unlearning and relearning, and is a life-long process of building relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals or groups”—an Ally is an individual who embraces Allyship.[2]When adopting this perspective, an individual can become more aware of how their actions may impact others. Through a continuous cycle of learning an Ally works with others to swap out previous misconceptions, replacing them with truths evident in others’ realities. This process is essential to thinking globally. 

When analyzing the distribution of a variety of different global development metrics, it is evident that much of the Global South is marginalized. A recent report from the United Nations outlined how 25% of people in Africa may remain in extreme poverty by 2030.[3]Another supporting statistic is that in half of the 53 developing countries with data, the majority of adult women with a primary education are still illiterate.[4]Although there is progress being made in some areas of development, it is clear that many developing nations are still considered periphery to the rest of the developed world. Consequently, business leaders have a large responsibility to recognize this inequity and educate themselves on the impact their organizations may be having on a global scale. Embracing Allyship can better enable business leaders to learn from and incorporate the experiences of these marginalized communities into business decisions, ultimately encouraging shared progress.  

For large multinational corporations, thinking globally is already a necessary component of their overall business strategy. However, thinking globally in a way that respects the rights, cultures, and futures of marginalized global communities is an area many firms can improve upon. Even for firms not operating on a global scale, each business decision will have an impact beyond the firm’s local community. Carbon emissions, plastic consumption, and purchasing of cash crops, are just a few examples of local business decisions that may have significant long-term impacts on communities far from a local business’s focus.

To consider the perspectives of marginalized communities and operate in a way that is equitable to the global community, a business leader’s approach to thinking globally must incorporate Allyship. This perspective encourages one to become educated about the realities of others’ situations, ensuring that when thinking globally, a business leader’s idea of “global” is reflective of the truths across the global community, and not merely based on assumptions generated by the Global North.

The world can only get better together. My hope is that the increased adoption of Allyship within the business community will one day render the terms ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’ irrelevant, lending to a new age of global progress and prosperity. 

By: Micah Hansen


Footnotes:

[1]Global North refers to most countries in the Northern Hemisphere that experience power, privilege and disproportionate control over global resources. Global South refers to most countries in the Southern Hemisphere that are still considered ‘developing’ and relatively less privileged than the Global North. 

[2]What is allyship? Why can't I be an ally? (2016, November 22). Retrieved from http://www.peernetbc.com/what-is-allyship

[3]World Economic Situation Prospects. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.un.org/development/desa/dpad/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/publication/WESP2018_Full_Web-1.pdf

[4]World's most marginalized still left behind by global development priorities: UNDP report. (2017, March 21). Retrieved from http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2017/03/21/world-s-most-marginalized-still-left-behind.html