Shot of a group of young business professionals having a meeting. Diverse group of young designers smiling during a meeting at the office.

Article by Vicky Sleight, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, TM Forum

Recent McKinsey data revealed that, on average, diverse organisations achieve 83% more engagement from employees, experience 20% more innovation, perform 35% better on financial return, and generate 38% more revenue.

These figures have prompted business leaders across the globe to spend billions on diversity and inclusion efforts.

Diversity and inclusion is about implementing the right company culture – and it is becoming an ethical requirement for general business continuity – paramount for overall success and staying relevant to customers and employees. This is particularly true amid the ‘Great Resignation’, which has become more than just a hashtag, as a movement borne of career dissatisfaction gives way to hiring challenges. In the grips of the ‘Big Quit’, it has been difficult for organisations to recruit and retain top tech talent.

Building an inclusive and diverse working environment opens the door to rapid workforce growth and increased profitability—and business leaders now realise not just the importance of diversity in their business but inclusion.

Real change starts at the from the top down

We’ve all heard it before; Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) starts at the top — and it’s true. When I started in tech comms, it was unusual to find a senior female executive leading a meeting in boardrooms or on conference platforms. The lack of a diverse and inclusive culture was reflective of a historical mindset that tech comms was a male and engineering-based industry and technology first.

Professionals across the industry welcome this progress, but the journey the tech comms industry is on still has a way to go. Currently, there are only six women CEOs leading 31 companies within the top global telco space. As an industry, we need to get these diverse employees in leadership positions where they own the technology direction and are a very strategic part of the business.

And it’s not just about recruitment. Companies must help their employees fine-tune the skills necessary to deliver high value in an increasingly tech-centric environment. They must also get better at retaining and growing diverse representation in leadership positions while supporting and highlighting role models to attract talent.

We make real progress by enlisting leaders who want to support from the top by raising the bar with you as they commit to going down the path of the unknown to investigate what we can learn about ourselves, our team, and our culture to grow.

These provide opportunities to listen to employees’ lived experiences, take on feedback and action it.

A data-driven approach: using data to power diversity

As it stands, D&I is front and centre across many industries. However, almost a third of UK businesses still don’t have a strategic approach to D&I. More than half of HR professionals claim that D&I is key “challenge” within their business models. This is likely because many business leaders struggle with simply knowing where to start – which is understandable when there are several ways organisations can evoke greater D&I in the workplace. For example, they can commit to gender pay equity, implement flexible working arrangements, and provide progression support and leadership opportunities for women, to name a few.

However, to truly break down bias and trump diversity tropes, many organisations are turning to data in hopes of finding a solution.

Leveraging data to power diversity is an excellent way to allow innovation to flourish. This being said, that data needs to be actioned into meaningful insights. Regular collation, simplicity in the process and accurate information are critical for success.

The opportunity for data has never been more significant. Suppose organisations want to ‘break the bias’ and incite real change. In that case, they will look to manage diversity and inclusion in the same rigorous and data-driven ways they manage business operations. Once the collective drive and strategic understanding are set in stone, business leaders can start to action genuine change and develop a healthy environment that attracts and retains the right talent to capitalise on the tremendous growth the industry is seeing and creates the future workplace.

About the author

Vicky SleightAs Director of The Human Factor and Diversity & Inclusion, Vicky leads the global industry collaboration and Advisory Board for the TM Forum Diversity & Inclusion Council, along with the Digital Organization Transformation Project (DOT). DOT’s mission is to help companies accelerate digital transformation and succeed in the digital economy by ensuring that tech communications becomes the most diverse industry in the world. Vicky has more than 20 years’ experience in global technology and telecoms in mobile network operations, mobile devices and leading industry forums. She has led collaboration on equality and inclusion with key stakeholders in mobile network operators and the wider ecosystem that includes other telecoms organizations, government and non-governmental organizations, and academia. Vicky has created and delivered global programs and interventions to measure industry-wide progress against diversity and inclusion benchmarks.