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Talent and people

Unlocking a workforce potential through diversity and inclusion

Perspectives from Capgemini

The Capgemini Research Institute spoke with Shobha Meera, Chief CSR Officer and member of the Group Executive Committee

Shobha Meera is the Director of Corporate Responsibility (CR) for Capgemini Group, and member of the Group Executive Committee, since April 2020. In this capacity, she is responsible for the Group strategy on Environmental Sustainability, Digital Inclusion and Diversity & Inclusion, its deployment, and its implementation. Committed to working in the collective interest, Shobha Meera uses her skills and experience in corporate leadership to accelerate the deployment of Capgemini’s CSR initiatives focused on a healthier planet and reducing inequalities. She is a member of the board of directors of Capgemini India, of Purpose PBC and the American local network of the United Nations Global Compact, and the Global Compact Network USA.

One in four employees does not feel valued at work. This is a key finding from a recent International Labor Organization (ILO) report on diversity and inclusion.1

Research has consistently shown that high levels of diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) are closely associated with a variety of business-related benefits, including higher levels of productivity, stronger innovation, improved performance, and better talent retention. However, less than one-third of organizations actively measure inclusion.

This notwithstanding, the days of regarding DEI as a nice-to-have initiative are long gone; today, it is front and center. Efforts around DEI directly impact organizational performance and ability to attract and engage talent (including from previously untapped pools), as well as the wellbeing of external communities. A strong DEI commitment is part of fulfilling overall organizational purpose.  

“Less than one-third of organizations actively measure inclusion.”

Diversity is a key driver of innovation and performance 

Diversity has many dimensions: gender, age, disability, social and cultural origins, sexual orientation, personal and professional experience, ways of communicating, and even personality. A diverse workforce, with varied experiences and skills, can provide a variety of approaches to the same problem, generating more creativity and a range of original solutions, as well as insight to help decision-makers get to the best solution faster.  

In technology and design, this diversity is critical to preventing biased solutions that fail to address customers’ needs from predominating. Diverse and inclusive tech teams lead to more inclusive tech design. Research from the Capgemini Research Institute has found a clear and direct positive correlation between organizations that perform strongly in terms of developing inclusive culture and practices and those that score highly in inclusive design practices (see Figure 1).2 

“Diversity has many dimensions: gender, age, disability, social and cultural origins, sexual orientation, personal and professional experience, ways of communicating, and even personality.”

Some frontrunners are already beginning to see a competitive edge emerge as a result of nurturing a diverse workforce. As pointed out by Xavier Chéreau, CHRO of Stellantis, in his interview for this edition, his organization sees diversity as a “real competitive advantage,” with strong commercial benefits.  

Diversity and inclusion play a key role in attracting and engaging talent 

In an increasingly competitive, fast-paced marketplace, organizations must seek to attract talent from new and more diverse sources. Indeed, diversity and inclusiveness can make the difference between someone wanting to work for an organization or not. Research suggests that about one in three job seekers would not apply to an organization with a less diverse workforce.3  

Organizations must provide a working environment that makes everyone feel welcome and offers equal opportunities to thrive. Our recent research shows that, at leading organizations, less than 35% of employees feel there are no biases in promotion decisions (see Figure 2).  

Employees today expect to derive a sense of purpose from their work and to gain a sense that their organization cares about sustainability and inclusion. Other research also drives home the importance of DEI efforts to employee engagement. A SurveyMonkey research executive comments: “Workers who are satisfied with their company’s efforts on [DEI] issues are actually happier with their jobs. They are more likely than others to say that they have good opportunities to advance their careers, and to feel like they are paid well for the work they do.”4 

Conversely, a lack of representation of women or minorities in core functions or managerial positions, and a generally non-inclusive culture, can be detrimental to the organization and to employees, leading to significant erosion of talent reserves. 

Through right-skilling programs, under-represented groups can form the next untapped talent pool for large organizations  
The digital economy is evolving so fast that it is estimated that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be invented.5 AI and robotics will transform existing jobs and required skillsets; employees will need to be agile, flexible, and equipped with a strong set of soft skills, on top of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) background. Under-represented minorities and women are at risk of being left behind. Failing to inspire interest in STEM subjects among girls and young women will result in fewer women gaining access to well-paid, rewarding careers. 

By designing skills programs that target under-represented minorities, organizations can unlock a global talent pool. As pointed out in this edition by the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, in Europe alone there are 700,000‒1 million digital-skills vacancies. Capgemini CEO Aiman Ezzat and CHRO Anne Lebel highlight (also in this edition) that Capgemini has seen great success in upskilling Uber drivers in Brazil and marginalized women in rural communities in India, allowing them to take up technology roles with Capgemini or elsewhere in the sector. 

“By designing skills programs that target under-represented minorities, organizations can unlock a global talent pool.”

DEI initiatives impact external communities and broader society 

Equipping everyone with the skills they need to thrive in a digital world and bringing more diverse talent to high-paying and rewarding jobs in tech should be at the core of every organization’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. 

Digital empowerment is a key factor in inclusivity. Organizations should, therefore, not only address the requirement to educate disadvantaged and excluded people in basic digital skills, but also enable them to overcome social exclusion.  

“Digital empowerment is a key factor in inclusivity.”

Socio-economic inequalities pervade communities, and an inability to access or use the internet effectively is one of the most devastating for the daily lives of many – while also being one of the most straightforward to rectify. The internet is no longer a “nice-to-have” luxury; it is a necessary tool for social and governmental interaction. Private organizations and governments must collaborate in the fight against digital exclusion. Our research shows that younger people – those that have the most to lose and, at the same time, can contribute the most to the future economy, constitute a large share of the offline population.  

DEI is today tightly interwoven with an organization’s competitive positioning and ability to attract and retain talent. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger sums this up: “Diversity, equity, and inclusion accelerate innovation, attract top talent, deepen employee engagement, and improve the bottom line. Capturing such benefits requires fostering that culture throughout the industry.”6

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