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From Inclusion to Innovation: How Diversity Drives Performance

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For any organization today, particularly within the advertising industry, innovation reigns. The linkage between innovation and talent management -- how an organization attracts, develops, and retains its people -- has never been more important. Successful talent management initiatives weigh workforce diversity and inclusion as key levers to create cultures of innovation. This earns a top spot on the advertising executives' agenda.

We advise our clients to think of diversity outside of the traditional definition that includes only race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and physical ability. This can mean anything from marital and parental status to where an individual lives or has lived, organizational position, recreational choices, religious affiliation, income, alternative work arrangements, and more.

The more inclusive talent management practices an agency has, the far likelier it is to achieve and sustain higher levels of performance. Account teams that can bring together multiple points of view, experiences, values, and perspectives are better positioned to yield greater outcomes and creativity and to stoke innovation.

Is your organization doing all it can to build a better workplace to drive innovation and impact the bottom line?

Q1: Is your organization doing enough to attract, engage, and retain the right talent?
A: Your policies should reflect the diverse needs of your employee population and the motivating factors that can empower your talent base and organization. It's crucial that your programs be managed and monitored to confirm that the benefits are transparent and outweigh the costs. For example, most flexible work arrangements prove unsuccessful without a well-designed infrastructure in place to support both employees and their managers who take part in flexibility programs.

Q2: Does your organization have a good handle on its talent base, the profile of its workforce, and a view of its future talent needs? How can the business gauge engagement?
A: Most organizations don't know how they're faring; they risk finding out the hard way, when turnover skyrockets, hiring costs soar, and innovation lags. A "talent audit" can provide a quantitative and qualitative assessment of strategies, policies, reward programs, and attitudes about the workplace, roles, collaboration, inclusion, and flexibility to answer the questions many are starting to ask.

Q3: Does your organization make the most of metrics to measure and evaluate diversity, inclusion, and flexibility?
A: It's essential to be able to measure the effectiveness of your organization's workforce strategies. This enables you to see the ties between employee engagement and business results. We estimate that 80%-90% of large companies conduct generic engagement surveys that provide only a broad peek at employee commitment. Just 5%-10% of those companies tie their surveys to business outcomes or use them to determine what's really hampering the effectiveness of pivotal employees.

To activate the levers of talent management and engagement, and create diverse, inclusive, and innovative organizations, we recommend the following:
  • Pool employees by pivotal roles in ways that matter most to the business and assess engagement within those groups
  • Use engagement studies to anticipate and address barriers to inclusion, productivity, or flight risks within particular groups of employees
  • Bring HR partners and business unit leaders together to develop engagement and inclusion strategies, particularly for employees in pivotal roles
  • Analyze how engagement measures tie to performance outcomes (client satisfaction, innovative solutions, external recognition)
  • Understand exactly what -- aside from money -- motivates all of your employees
  • Act on that insight with creative, customized incentives

PwC's Talent Management & Organizational Design practice advises across a range of areas that span the entire employee lifecycle focusing on talent alignment, engagement, and measurement.

To have a deeper conversation on your organization's talent management and diversity and inclusion strategies, contact my colleagues, Sayed Sadjady, Principal, People & Change, at sayed.r.sadjady@us.pwc.com or Robert Ginzel at robert.s.ginzel@us.pwc.com.