Diversity and inclusion has been the topic of discussion in corporate leadership circles for years now. It seems, however, as if the conversation is starting to be repeated. Are we actually making headway in creating a more diverse and inclusive culture in asset management, or are we using buzzwords and vanity metrics to appear to be more progressive during this time? 

The World Economic Forum published an article in February this year looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion, and questioning whether it’s time to move forward with a different approach. That approach being belonging, dignity, and justice. 

The main premise is that diversity, equity, and inclusion implementation has become performative. It’s a way for businesses to appear to be doing the work to create a new culture, but ultimately, it’s not changing the lives of marginalised people working in these organisations. For many organisations, D&I is simply ticking boxes by promoting and hiring people from diverse backgrounds. 

The World Economic Forum outlines belonging, dignity, and justice as “humanity’s most precious and universal values”. This approach sets out to dismantle racism, dehumanisation, ableism, and sexism in the workplace through empathy and understanding, creating a place for marginalised people that is focused on their humanity rather than following strict corporate guidelines and requirements. 

There is no checklist involved in belonging, dignity, and justice. Instead, it starts with upholding these principles as values within an organisation. They’re fundamental beliefs shared by a collective workforce – this is not a strategic approach to organisational change, but a cultural one. 

It’s a change in mindset that informs action

Creating an organisational culture of belonging, dignity, and justice starts with looking inward, assessing whether these values are already present, and where there are gaps that require further development and understanding. 

That development and understanding isn’t a result of employee training days or checklists; it stems from meaningful conversations with a wide scope of the workforce to identify where there is a shortfall or lack of support, how that affects those employees, and how different approaches and awareness can improve general wellbeing. 

It’s this mindset that informs the actions organisations then take. There are no vanity metrics that measure success. Instead, the comfort and happiness levels of the team will decide whether an organisation has succeeded in this transformation. 

ROI is not at the centre of belonging, dignity, and justice 

There are statistics that show how diversity and inclusion can improve the growth and profit of a business. There is no data available on the effects of belonging, dignity, and justice on a company’s bottom line. This is due to the idea that these values are not there to ensure better ROI, but rather to improve the lives of team members, from junior employees to executive board members. 

The aim of these efforts is not financial gain, but rather taking a more focused approach to creating an ethical and empathetic working environment. However, it is thought that if an organisation thrives based on the values of belonging, dignity, and justice, their employees will be happier and therefore more productive, better representatives of the organisation. 

Internal change can affect external interactions

Creating internal change based on welcoming individuals, offering them respect, and providing fair and equal opportunities can affect how a business is perceived. However, the initial change is not noted in reports as it would be with diversity and inclusion strategies. Instead, the transformation is authentic and unrelated to gaining outside approval. This makes it a human approach that is not about reputation, statistics, or appearances. 

This internal change can, however, be seen in real transformation that occurs within the organisation. Eventually, having a more bonded, fair, and content workforce will affect perceptions of the employer brand and general standing within the industry. 

We spoke to our Berkeley Croft clients and asked them about their understanding of diversity and inclusion and their views on making a change geared towards belonging, dignity, and justice. Below, we’ve included some insights from these clients. 

“It is critical to approach diversity and inclusion from a place of humanity. The buzzwords, vanity metrics, and checklists will only get you so far. While belonging has always been a part of our diversity efforts, pivoting the focus more towards humanity will ensure the progress made not only continues, but deepens within the organization and our culture. ROI has always been important, especially within the Asset Management industry; however we can start to change the way ROI is perceived – to not be financial returns alone, but also lifestyle and ethical returns.”

– US based Senior HR Leader for a Global Asset Manager

“You do see transformation being a tick box exercise in a lot of companies. Unfortunately everything in the corporate world comes down to the metrics, and DE&I is measurable to some extent (whether it’s hiring, promotions, or attrition). Belonging, dignity and justice are far harder to quantify, so it can be a challenging topic to broach. It’s a good discussion point though.”

– UK based Talent Manager for a Global Asset Manager

Partner with Berkeley Croft to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce based on the principles of belonging, dignity, and justice. Contact us today to start the conversation.