Unlocking the power of social organisations: Why does diversity and inclusion at the workplace matter? (Part one)

As champions of an inclusive and equitable society, social organisations should lead by example by fostering an enabling culture for their employees. In the first article of our two-part series, we explain why diversity and inclusion at the workplace is a must-have for social organisations.

Royalty-free vector illustration by Freepik.

It helps to enhance team performance.

Not only is the creation of such an enabling and anti-discriminatory workplace environment simply the right thing to do, but it also makes tangible sense for team performance.

Diversity and inclusive teams are not just nice to have. When each and every employee is treated respectfully and fairly, as well as valued for their abilities, perspectives and personalities, diverse strengths are leveraged and collaboration becomes easier. Scholars such as Ely and Thomas (2001) have contended that culturally diverse teams are more likely to avoid group-think and are poised to perform better with a broader range of knowledge and perspectives. Research from Deloitte in 2018 also revealed the impact on diverse and interdisciplinary teams on performance — teams helmed by inclusive leaders were found to be 17% more likely to be high-performing and 20% more likely to make high-quality decisions.

It leads to better organisational outcomes.

A diverse and inclusive work environment can lead to better organisational outcomes — whether in revenue, capacity-building or service delivery across for — and non-profit organisations. A survey by Boston Consulting Group, for instance, found that companies with above-average total diversity had both 19% higher innovation revenues and 9% higher EBIT margins. Enabling a diverse range of employees, ideas and skill-sets to thrive will also help social organisations better reflect and engage the communities they serve. This in turn results in more efficient and effective service delivery.

Increasing the level of diversity in non-profit organisations is also central to its capacity-building and funding goals. Ensuring a diverse board, for instance, can improve public perception and help social organisations attract more volunteers and donations. According to a report by student consultants from Conjunct Consulting, 81.6% of volunteers said that board diversity has influenced their decision to volunteer at a charity. Moreover, 27% of respondents would make donation decisions based on the diversity of a charity’s board.

It’s simply the right thing to do.

Whether at for- or non-profit organisations, it is more than unfair when a woman or mother is accorded fewer promotion opportunities than her male counterpart, ceteris paribus, as a result of archaic stereotypes and sexist prejudices. It is unjust that hiring managers screen only Chinese-speaking applicants and cast aspersions on the ability of hijab-wearing employees. It is not only reductive but also dangerously counterproductive if social organisations were to turn away a prospective volunteer solely on the basis of his/her socioeconomic status or mental health condition.

It’s only just that every individual deserves an equal shot at a job or volunteer opportunity and that every employee or volunteer feels valued, heard and accepted at the workplace. As a force for good, social organisations should lead by example, and pave the way for a more inclusive society by embedding these tenets into all aspects of their operations.

It’s time to walk the talk.

As stewards of change and social equity, social organisations are best placed to build a culture of diversity and inclusion at their workplaces. Keep an eye for the second article of the two-part series, where we will suggest ways for social organisations to foster an enabling workplace culture for all!

About Skills for Good

Skills for Good, a local volunteer-matching organisation, with a base of eclectic volunteers with skills ranging from marketing and communications to information technology to fundraising. We seek to empower volunteers through convenient and meaningful skills-based volunteering opportunities that help social organisations to achieve their mission.​ Volunteer with us today and wake up tomorrow with the warm and fuzzy sensation of ‘volunesia’.

Authors: Lim Jia Ying and Gerald Peh