Why championing diversity is every business leader’s responsibility

Non-bias work environment can improve productivity, nurture collaborative culture and promote equality in society

We celebrated International Women's Day earlier last month, a landmark occasion in the celebration of diversity and equality in our world and in our workplaces.

Yet, do we ask ourselves what is next in our efforts to making this a way of life within our organisations?

Diversity ought to be an ongoing conversation and one that should be the responsibility of every business leader, for a productive work environment, to foster a creative and collaborative culture and to inspire this same equality outside the organisation.

Diversity and inclusion should be qualities that business leaders develop in nurturing their organisations.

Beyond attracting talent, it ensures retention of existing employees and creates an environment where diverse viewpoints and skill sets are constantly leveraged to surmount challenges of today's unpredictable world.

There are, of course, challenges that must be addressed.

For example, ensuring that female employees do not feel defined by stereotypes constructed by culture, and even society, tainting their confidence and perception of their capabilities in the workplace.

At Dimension Data Asia Pacific, we strongly believe in this and are a proud partner of Lean In Singapore, a non-profit organisation and community that is focused on empowering women to do just that.

In particular, we are actively involved in HeforShe, a sub-chapter of Lean In that focuses on creating an environment that enables men to acknowledge and eliminate unconscious - and conscious - bias in the workplace and beyond.

Business leaders need to set the tone within their organisations and to take a stand on matters that affect business and talent.

Diversity and the way we manage diversity eventually will define the organisational environment and culture.

It is imperative for us to have an open mindset and ensure that people from different backgrounds - whether age, race, gender, religion or culture - feel they are included, heard and valued in the organisation.

According to Harvard Business Review, employees of firms with 2-D diversity are 45 per cent likelier to report a growth in market share over the previous year and 70 per cent likelier to report the firm captured a new market.

The writer is chief executive officer, Dimension Data Asia Pacific, an IT company.