The benefits of creating an equal workplace / Article by Neste


5 minute read

The benefits of creating an equal workplace

As part of modern sustainability practices, many businesses are working towards diversity. But how does this lead to improved business performance? In this regular column, we examine different approaches to implementing sustainable practices—and how they have paid off.

Expect to learn:

  • How a diverse and inclusive workplace boosts profits.

  • Why being sustainable is about social and governance as well as environmental measures.

  • How to promote and benefit from sustainability within your business culture.

The way we see sustainability has changed. The past decade has seen the very idea change and expand.

That’s partly thanks to the work of monitoring organizations like Corporate Knights, who publish an annual ranking of the world’s most sustainable corporations’ performance in governance, social and environmental terms, as well as the respected Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, which have rated the world’s leading companies’ economic, environmental and social performance for more than two decades.

But it’s also down to investors, who have begun to see sustainable business practices as a reliable measure of the future-readiness of a business. The recent wave of ‘ESG’ sustainable bond issues – in which ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance – means sustainability has evolved. A sustainable business takes into account its impact on ecological, economic, and social environment.

Committing to sustainability also means paying systematic attention to employee remuneration, equality, diversity and inclusion.

There are many reasons to implement new policies regarding sustainability. Some are familiar – such as the matter of compliance. Unless you follow regulations and legislation, you will face fines, risk damage to reputational capital, and alienate investors, customers and talent too.

But as more data is examined, some unexpected incentives are emerging from this new, expanded definition of sustainability to include social and governance metrics.

The new, expanded definition of sustainability includes social and governance metrics.

One of them is the discovery that equal, diverse work environments are proven to deliver better financial performance.

The reasons for advancing diversity

The fact is, human resource performance is one of the key drivers of competitive advantage.Research on how companies perform on diversity reveals that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.

For ethnic/cultural diversity, top-quartile companies were an impressive 33 percent more likely to outperform on pure profitability. And as for companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards worldwide, they are a staggering 43 percent more likely to experience higher profits.

A diverse and inclusive workplace is important to an organization’s ability to attract, develop, and retain the talent it needs to compete. The more diverse organization you become, the broader the talent pool you will gain, and the better results that talent pool will yield.

Research shows that diverse, inclusive groups make better and faster decisions

”Diverse and inclusive working environments are essential parts of future success at work places”, says Hannele Jakosuo-Jansson, Senior Vice President, HR, HSSEQ and Procurement. ”They enable us to improve and develop on a new level.” She says that diversity and new ways of working are especially important for Neste because they support global growth. ”It is not always easy, but it is the only way to develop further.

”Research also shows that diverse and inclusive groups make better, faster decisions. Furthermore, there is also a positive correlation between better decision making and business performance.Similarly, diverse teams bring varying experiences, perspectives and approaches to the table. This in turn increases innovation and customer insight.

Case study: How Accenture has become famous for equality and diversity

Global consultancy company Accenture has set a goal of achieving a gender-balanced workforce by 2025.According to Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chairman and CEO, diversity makes their business stronger and more innovative and the world a better place. Accenture also says it aims to advance the conversation around workplace equality.

This is what Accenture has done and is doing to further equality and diversity: Currently, 30 percent of Accenture’s leaders are women; as are 47 percent of its new hires, and 43 percent of its global workforce. Meanwhile, just 38 percent of its revenue-producing roles are held by women. In addition, Accenture’s board of directors is diverse in terms of its geographic and gender representation, with people from six countries across four continents and five (42 percent) women, including its lead director.

The company has also launched a number of initiatives that further advance inclusion and diversity in the company. Accenture’s global Pride Ally programme, in which employees act as catalysts for inclusion and raise awareness for LGBT equality, has more than 110,000 members. Accenture’s global Persons with Disabilities Champions Network, with its 22,000 members, sponsors local networking, collaboration, mentoring and awareness-building activities for people with disabilities, as well as caregivers and colleagues.

Workplace equality creates proven benefits

The company’s Getting to Equal report revealed how a workplace culture of equality can become a powerful multiplier of innovation and growth, while its Disability Inclusion Advantage research linked financial performance with companies providing an inclusive culture for persons with disabilities.

A culture of equality can become a powerful multiplier of innovation and growth.

Accenture has earned broad recognition as a leader in workplace equality. In 2019 the company was recognised on numerous lists. It was named as the No. 1 company on Refinitiv’s Diversity & Inclusion Index, for a second consecutive year; as well as Bloomberg’s Gender–Equality Index; Diversity Inc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity in the U.S.; The Times’ Top 50 Employers for Women in the UK and Nikkei Top 100 Companies for Women in Japan.