Why diversity is good for business

Carla Haag
July 29, 2020

A diverse team has an unquestionable advantage over one where strengths and skills are the same. However, the advantage only materializes if all members have the same access to the game. Today all employees are joining a global virtual event to celebrate our individuality and our power as a connected and inclusive Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.

So…

  • You are forming your boy band. You will need distinct personalities to appeal to the widest possible audience: the pretty one, the bad boy, the funny one, the sweet boy… 
  • You are building your American football dream team. You will need a variety of builds and skills to score some touchdowns: your quarterbacks, kickers, running and defensive backs, offensive and defensive linesmen, receivers… 
  • You are solving a crime… it seems you will need a troubled detective, a quirky sidekick, a forensic expert (and perhaps a socially awkward genius)… 

You would think that in 2020 having a diverse group of people in a team is an unquestionable advantage. Diversity, and its business benefits, are certainly in the spotlight: 

  • McKinsey research shows companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians
  • Forbes has reported that earnings before tax & interest margins are 10% higher at companies with diverse management teams.
  • Forbes has also reported that companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.
  • Harvard Business Review did research on venture capital (VC) investments.  Investments VC firms that increased female partner hires by 10% saw a highly significant increase (9.7%) in profitable exits. 

Yet true inclusion – active participation in the company’s life line and leadership positions - is not a given. 

As a global company with a long history, we have employees from all over the world and of different cultural background and ages. We regularly respond to requests from our customers asking us to confirm our Corporate Social Responsibility scores. We prove we comply with all regulations and we have numerous policies in place that ensure our workspace is free from any type of discrimination. 

It is true. However, when in 2019 we analysed the number of women in our organization, we were confronted with the fact that only 21% of our workforce was female, and only 18% were responsible for the strategic guidance of ALE. We were shocked and with the Executive Management Team set an ambitious target to increase the representation of women in leadership positions to 30% by 2022. 

We did not want to set any artificial hiring quotas. We want to tackle the issue at source by highlighting our natural and unconscious biases and educating ourselves that diversity is really good for business.

I confess my results of the Project Implicit test reveal I am not the most enlightened person to champion gender balance in our organization. But I challenge my results and myself, and hope to become a better example for change. I want to become an agent for change.  

We all have unconscious biases. Today, during our first global virtual event "Reconnecting One ALE", we as employees are taking some time to think about our biases and the benefits of overcoming them. We also take the opportunity to virtually reconnect with our colleagues around the world, many of whom have been isolated as a response to the current health crisis. 

Today we celebrate our individual contribution and our power as a connected team. 

We value diversity and seek to embrace the richness of our individual differences. 

#WhereEverythingConnects, #ALEtogether

 
Carla Haag

Carla Haag

Head of Executive Office, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Carla Haag has been Head of the Executive Office since 2017, following 20 years of work in all areas of marketing. You are not alone if you are wondering what she does in her role. Carla has the pleasure of working closely with the Executive Management Team on transformation projects, company culture, employee communications and our corporate social responsibility program.

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