Why 'Diversity' is the new 'Digital'

In 2008 we used to have teams and job titles with the word ‘Digital’ in them. They would sit on the fringes of organisations and effuse the benefits of tools such as instant messengers, social networks and websites. They would experiment and earn their keep by proving that businesses could become more productive and more profitable in the digital world.

It is my opinion that in 2018 ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ is treated by business leaders in the same way today that digital was just 10 years ago. The people most affected by diversity are the ones that put in extra time by attending talks, establishing together networks and trying to drive change change. I saw this this morning as part of the work The Unmistakable are doing for the Investing in Ethnicity and Race Awards. 

For digital, we now live in a different world. We have a digitally native workforce in the market. We have digital-first businesses such as Netflix and Uber. Their very existence has only become possible because of those who paved the way all those years ago - constantly banging on about the benefits of the cloud. Sure, companies and industries are at various stages of their digital transformation, but it’s clear we have progressed as a society because of new technology. 

So in 10 years time, will we be saying the same thing about diversity and inclusion? Will being different be as infused into organisations in the same way as video conferencing tools are now? In some ways we are seeing exactly the same blockers as we did with digital - an eagerness from the top and bottom of organisations but an inertia in the middle - and worrying still a lot of doubt over the benefit to the bottom line.

I’d argue we’ll soon see more natively diverse and inclusive companies start to spring up and spring over those that are failing to be representative of society today. It’s only a matter of time.