The ROI of DE&I

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For years, companies have been publicly espousing the value of diversity, and many have made significant strides in enhancing the makeup of their workforce.

While increasing racial diversity in many companies was a necessary first step, the reality is that the first step was the only step for many organizations. Diversity extends beyond simply races, but also includes many other metrics of representation across all spectrums of humanity.

In the wake of the violence perpetrated against the Black and Asian & Pacific Islander communities in the last year, we have been reminded that simply having a diverse representation of people in an organization doesn’t achieve what is often the unstated goal of diversity — which is ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table and a chance to be heard.

Today, inclusion and equity among a company’s workforce is a must. Corporate America is now going through an immense shift with the dialogue around inclusion, equity and belonging for their employees, customers and communities.

It is important that, in the leisure travel space, we understand our responsibility to contribute to advancements among the leading environmental, social and economic issues facing the world — from climate change and water scarcity to human rights.

Diversity is a business imperative

Lately, there has been a shift within the investor community to evaluate organizations on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. When we refer to the “S” component of ESG, investors and other stakeholders often evaluate an organization’s approach and strategy to improve workplace culture and belonging, with a focus on human capital development. The evaluation is focused on organizational efforts on attracting, retaining, and developing diverse talent and practices in place to track and measure progress.

Inclusion is also of utmost importance when we talk about diversity, as it is about recognizing and appreciating differences in perspectives and helping ensure everyone has a chance for their voice to be heard.

Employee engagement starts with listening to your people      

In light of the upheaval of the last year relating to the pandemic and the heightened focus on social and racial justice, we reevaluated our approach to understand and learn from our associates across the organization. It was important to continue with our commitment and meaningful actions, but we had to create a safe space for our associates to have a dialogue and conversations around ongoing issues on social inequities and racial justice, particularly against Black Americans.

This approach helped our leaders reconnect with our associates, gaining a better understanding that further helped shape our DE&I strategy. As for the ROI, all these conversations have helped our leaders and teams to be more thoughtful, appreciative and welcoming of the many diverse perspectives from inside and outside the organization.

Customer obsession and service commitment

A 2019 McKinsey study shows a strong correlation between gender and cultural diversity and an organization’s financial performance.

Over the past few years, Travel + Leisure Co., the travel company where we work, has experienced a generational shift in its customers, where almost 60 percent of new timeshare owners are Gen Xers and millennials.

Coupled with changing travel trends among all generations, and the shift in the buying power of various groups including women, underrepresented minorities and the LGBTQIA+ community, our work to better understand the perspectives of a more diverse world will help us attract a broader set of customers.

The true ROI of DE&I comes when everyone can deliver their best performance at your organization, knowing they are welcomed for the value they bring as a unique individual built from the richness of experiences they bring from their background.

Steven Goldsmith, APR, is director of public relations at Travel + Leisure Co. in Orlando, Fla., and is a 20-year member of PRSA. His career spans 25 years of communications leadership in Fortune 500 companies. Yogita Inamdar is director of social responsibility, inclusion and diversity at Travel + Leisure Co. She held similar roles at Dell EMC.

[Illustration credit: metamorworks]

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Steven Goldsmith, APR, and Yogita Inamdar

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