Why Diversity And Inclusion Matters – From An Innovation Perspective

Marita Mitschein

Diversity and inclusion has become a trending topic for companies of all sizes and industries, but the focus is still on diversity related to gender or ethnicity. At the same time, the buzzword “innovation” is one of the hottest topics in our day-to-day lives. Diversity, inclusion, and innovation are more related than we think, yet organizations often don’t connect these trends. As a result, they don’t align between departments and thereby miss out on huge synergies.

Building and fostering a diversity and inclusion strategy that is truly lived in an organization is a catalyst for success and a foundation for innovation. According to PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, 85% of CEOs whose organizations have a diversity and inclusion strategy say it has enhanced performance. Highly inclusive organizations rate themselves 170% better at innovation, according to Bersin by Deloitte.

The importance of taking the time and effort to constantly align

An effective diversity and inclusion strategy is not built in one day and it needs time to grow. It should also not be developed solely by the HR department. Considering the potential impact of such a strategy on business performance and innovation potential, diversity and inclusion efforts must be aligned across the entire organization. Especially as the topic of diversity and inclusion is very much linked to an organization’s culture, addressing it holistically is the key to a sustainable approach.

There is no doubt that diverse teams are proven to be more innovative. Synchronizing diversity and inclusion efforts with a company’s innovation strategy and roadmap ensures a company’s DNA is set for innovation in the first place. Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization in an era of disruption. In order to stay competitive, it is imperative that organizations build an innovation culture that is linked to diversity and inclusion.

Innovation doesn’t flourish where people agree all the time

How do we build and maintain an innovation culture? It is important to look into diversity and inclusion beyond gender and consider more abstract (and difficult to assess) areas such as diversity of thinking. While it’s easy to measure gender diversity by counting the proportion of women in the workforce, you can’t measure diversity of thinking with numbers and statistics. This makes it even more difficult to generate and maintain diversity of thinking.

Investing in skills is one option to establish and foster diversity of thinking. Five years from now, 35% of skills considered important in today’s workforce will have changed, according to the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum. In-demand skills of the future, such as collaboration and complex problem solving, enable employees to think differently and allow innovation to thrive.

Thanks to innovation methodologies such as design thinking, growing these skills is no longer a challenge. It changes the way teams work together to let innovation flourish and create meaningful collaboration. Innovation doesn’t thrive where people agree, rather in the places where we find healthy dialogues, where everyone builds on top of each other’s ideas and thoughts to create an innovative and inclusive environment.

Find out more about how SAP SuccessFactors Work-Life helps businesses create an environment where diverse teams thrive.

Marita Mitschein

About Marita Mitschein

In support of SAP’s commitment to close the digital skills gap, Marita Mitschein is leading the SAP Training & Development Institute and overseeing all capacity build initiatives across EMEA South. Marita is Senior Vice President Digital Skills EMEA South, Managing Director SAP Training & Development Institute and Member of SAP’s Global Executive Leadership Team.