Diversity is a sustainability matter

It being Pride month and all, I think it’s a good time to point out that sustainability in a business setting is not just about emission reductions and scope 1–3.

Social sustainability is just as important. And how a company addresses diversity can be quite revealing as to their dedication to social sustainability.

It’s about who gets hired, promoted, rewarded – and who doesn’t. It’s about who can feel safe, accepted and appreciated in the workplace. It’s about which kind of background and expertise is valued.

Look around you. What are your team members like? What about your peers? Are they all pretty much like you? Do you know anyone at your workplace who belongs to a minority? Or are you the only stand-out different person? 

If the above sounds familiar, your company is not making a conscious effort to promote diversity.

For managers, diversity can be particularly tough, because truly embracing and promoting it often means having to manage a personal change process. Learning to recognise one’s own privilege. Understanding and letting go of personal prejudices. Tolerating discomfort. Looking beyond the obvious.

Embarking on that change process is well worth it, though. Promoting and embracing diversity in the workplace is about giving more people the chance to thrive. But it’s also about giving the business a chance to thrive. There is plenty of international research evidence showing that companies with a more diverse workforce and management generally perform better than more homogeneous ones.

So, there really isn’t any excuse for managers to disregard diversity – not from a sustainability standpoint, nor from a business one. It’s time to step up.