Spur innovation with diverse, inclusive team


A diverse workforce that incorporates different people with unique talents and skills is critical for growth. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

With a sprawling unemployment rate and a sluggish job-creation environment, a lot of job seekers still face a myriad of challenges in securing employment in the country. The situation is not so different in many African states.

The 2019 Economic Survey Report released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed that only 1.6 million jobs have been created in Kenya for the past six years. The largest chunk of this was in the informal sector.

This phenomenon begs the question as to whether employers are starved of qualified personnel or they are not just harnessing skills and talents to grow their employees’ potential.

Corporates and organisations should be cognizant that the greatest asset and resource an organisation can ever grow is its workforce. Organisational culture and staff welfare defines employee morale and subsequently output. Therefore deliberate efforts and heavy investments have to be put to ensure that corporates and organisations grow the skills and talents of its employees.

To achieve this, diversity and inclusion is a major factor to address in the workforce. A 2018 research by McKinsey and Company titled Delivering through diversity reinforced the link between diversity and an organisations performance and suggested how firmscan craft better inclusion strategies to compete favourably in the market.

A diverse workforce that has incorporated different people with unique talents and skills is critical for growth. Corporates should, therefore, entrench this into their broader business strategies through internal policies that streamline the need for a diverse and all-inclusive workforce.

For example at the Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) we believe in sharing talent across territories so as to encourage skill sharing across the different markets we operate in.

CCBA aims to afford employees the opportunity to make meaningful contributions across our business systems based on their unique experiences, talents and capabilities.

Our belief in inclusion has seen us hire from a varied talent pool including differently disabled persons. Today we have people with different forms of disabilities working in various departments in our plants across the country.

Corporates and organisations ought, therefore, to understand that having a diverse workforce is important to customers and critical to succeeding in a global market.

Diversity and inclusion influence adaptability. Organisations must be technologically and culturally adaptable in the modern economy. This is critical to reacting to competitive dynamics quickly and staying ahead of industry trends.

It also enables unique thinking and enhances improved decision- making through a deeper and more comprehensive worldview of the employees in an organisation. Employers are keen on ingraining this practice so as to grow and harness the best talents and skills by employing effective diversity management practices. Through this, diverse teams are prone to come up with innovative and effective ideas. For organisations to survive and thrive there is an inherent value in diversity that provides tangible benefits to the company.

As the world moves and corporates drive towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, diversity will add value across multiple perspectives and enrich collaborations in the workforce. Sustainable businesses will be defined by their diverse nature and inclusivity in their labour force.

Therefore corporates and other organisations ought to prioritise this as a matter of need and work on ways of embracing this practice.

Having a high-quality workforce is a determinant on business and organisational success. With a skills shortage and an era of individuals who are not attuned to the digital disruption taking place, the workforce is at risk of becoming redundant.

There is a need to have solutions that touch base on employee training, a better alignment on employees and education and tapping into the talent pool that includes young people who are willing to learn, people with disabilities, the under-represented among others.

Recognising the strategic value of diversity at the workplace will be key towards achieving synergy, growing talent, harnessing skills, encouraging innovation, and aligning to the organisation's goals to the SDG’s.

The writer is human resource director, Coca Cola Beverages Africa in Kenya.