CFOs are naturally focused on the bottom line, and promoting diversity can be tough to quantify. The short-term benefits that typically drive many corporate initiatives can be elusive when it comes to building a more inclusive work environment. However, in supporting inclusivity in corporate decision-making and broader opportunities within the executive ranks, finance executives do expect the benefits to show up in the form of improved financial outcomes.
Progressive senior finance executives are eager to invest in diversity with an eye toward long-term gains. In a recent survey of 204 senior finance executives, 44% cited diversity and inclusion as a “top priority” within their companies. The question was part of an online questionnaire fielded by CFO Research, in collaboration with Hiscox, the global insurance provider. More than one-third (36%) of finance chiefs categorize their D&I efforts as a lesser priority but confirm they are “making clear progress” toward creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. The remaining 20% of survey respondents reported either an uneven or completely lacking approach to diversity and inclusion at their organizations.
As they acknowledge the potential financial impact of diversity and inclusion, finance executives are determining the best strategy to foster change. Another piece of advice from executives who have worked to diversify their organizations: Measure progress, as what gets measured gets done. Accountability is essential, so establishing a dedicated position tasked with advancing toward a D&I goal can improve the opportunities for success.
The move toward inclusivity shouldn’t be limited to changing the demographics of the workforce. True value comes in leveraging it, which requires a culture where a variety of opinions and insights can be heard. Fostering improved collaboration and greater productivity will ultimately make it easier to quantify the financial benefits of a more inclusive environment. And as companies begin sharing results that link diversity to financial outcomes, more companies will surely follow their lead.