How diverse and equitable enterprises will transform the world

In their new column, Andrès Tapia and Fayruz Kirtzman explore the five disciplines of inclusive organizations, and why they are not only ethical but economically successful.

As we stand on the edge of a new era, the call for creating inclusive organizations reverberates with resounding urgency. Gone are the days when a strictly profit-focused approach to business would suffice. Today, the true measure of success lies not only in profitability but in the ability to foster environments that embrace the wide range of human identities, experiences, and talents. And the two—profitability and inclusivity—may fit hand in hand more than we may think.

We've found that, for too long, many companies did not fully account for the hidden costs to the environment, society, and people's well-being—all of which have contributed to the structural inequities in our companies and our communities. But with more and more people demanding to live in a more equitable and sustainable world, we now see organizations shifting in how they view their own economic wealth. They recognize that the real cost of doing business includes more than their profits and losses, and they are working to address environmental, social, and economic threats to society as a result. And those companies that are adjusting the way they do business are finding themselves closer and closer to what we call an inclusive organization.

In our new paper, The 5 Disciplines of Inclusive Organizations: How Diverse and Equitable Enterprises Will Transform the World, we explore what an inclusive organization is and why inclusivity is just smart business. In the first half of the paper, we dive into what makes an inclusive organization and the reasons why they are sustaining success, while in the second half, we discuss how companies can achieve this status and create inclusive and equitable cultures that improve our world.

Today’s business landscape calls for organizations to embrace inclusivity and equity or face consequences, leaving many companies caught in the crossfire of societal demands. Failure to meet expectations could result in customers seeking alternative brands and employees seeking new employers. In fact, research shows that a third of employees are willing to reconsider their jobs if their companies fall short on social justice efforts. The impact is not limited only to reputational damage; they hit the bottom line hard, with employee turnover costs exceeding the cost of DE&I efforts.

Organizations that embrace inclusion and equity, on the other hand, stand to gain substantial rewards and may fare better at sustainable success. Korn Ferry’s research on organizational purpose found that companies committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion scored higher on measures of corporate effectiveness and have shown to outpace their peers on financial performance. By nurturing diverse perspectives and fostering an inclusive and equitable culture, organizations can effectively care for their people, the planet, and society, all while still driving profits.

If companies want to tackle DE&I and sustainability head-on, they need to become catalysts for change and create inclusive and equitable environments for everyone. That's where the five disciplines come into play, and they're the secret ingredient of inclusive organizations. These disciplines, based on the Korn Ferry DE&I maturity model, give companies a roadmap to navigate their DE&I journey and make progress toward their ultimate goals. We have found that these five disciplines—Manage the Risk, Explode the Awareness, Maximize the Talent Systems, Master the Logistics, and See the Marketplace—encompass the structures, mindsets, behaviors, and accountabilities needed to drive increasing DE&I maturity across organizations. And it is the practice of these disciplines that positively affects a company’s talent, culture, products, and services, and the societies in which they operate. By embracing this approach, organizations understand that DE&I maturity isn't a one-size-fits-all thing; it varies across different dimensions and calls for a more holistic transformation.

Companies that foster inclusion and equity can find ethical and economic success, allowing them to go beyond their four walls to address the problems our communities face. Polarization, injustice, climate change, and a lack of diversity in leadership are four critical issues that we see in the world today, and inclusive organizations recognize those challenges as the four vital tasks that they can help solve by following the five disciplines.

Being an inclusive organization isn’t just an option—it’s an absolute game-changer. By valuing diversity, tearing down barriers, and embracing inclusion and equity, organizations can tap into a new kind of wealth and begin to use that capital to better the world we live in.

To learn more, click the image to download our report, “The 5 Disciplines of Inclusive Organizations: How Diverse and Equitable Enterprises Will Transform the World.”

For more information, learn about Korn Ferry’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion capabilities.