Lestat Monroe is a French entrepreneur and a champion of diversity and inclusion in Eastern Europe. While diversity and inclusion have been on the public agenda in the last few years, putting them at the core of a company’s strategy will take time and buy-in from managers and leaders.
Why is it essential to have a good diversity and inclusion policy?
Lestat Monroe: There are countless articles online that promote diversity in the workplace and talk about it as if it were a breeze – just encourage diversity in all its forms and voila! Really? In reality, promoting diversity in business is a much more complex process. A question then arises: how to find a balance between the confusion that can generate different approaches and values, and the need to adopt a policy of diversity and homogeneous inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion have been the subject of significant attention recently. Numerous companies have fuelled controversy by pursuing the wrong policy, such as having an executive committee mainly made up of white men.
Diversity and inclusion should not only be a moral obligation: it is also a question of common sense on which the success of a business can be based.
At the same time, promoting and encouraging diversity in business is essential to effectively manage your teams. This includes valuing each employee in the organisation as an individual. However, if we want to take advantage of this diversity, it is essential to develop an inclusive environment in which everyone can make a contribution and realise their potential.
A company is certainly more likely to outrun its competitors in terms of profitability when it presents a higher level of diversity within its management committee.
What are the benefits of D&I in business?
Lestat Monroe: A successful policy does not only generate a financial return, being diverse and inclusive also has other multiple advantages:
- Better working relationships;
- More relevant thought mechanisms;
- More effective decision making;
- Loyal employees;
- Better ability to innovate;
- Increased productivity; and
- Significantly improved customer relations.
Have you seen any progress over the past few years?
Lestat Monroe: Yes. I was pleased to see more women on boards of multinational companies and a lot more companies investing in LGBTI+ initiatives. So yes, there’s progress, but we still can do so much more – starting with educating young people about diversity and inclusion.
What are the remaining challenges?
Lestat Monroe: These are often cultural obstacles: a manager will sometimes be more likely to recruit a profile that resembles their own. This is why good upstream awareness work is important. Each manager must always ask themselves the question: could this position be filled by a woman or a person with a disability, for example? Having a conscience is not enough.
Do companies need to change their recruitment policies?
Lestat Monroe: Yes, and some of them already have. Employer branding is important for attracting young professionals and now, more than ever, as an employer it is important to have an environment that employees can identify with. Big, multinational companies are already changing their brand communication and exploring the needs of the younger generation; one of the main topics is building an environment where they can develop and learn, where people can come up with brilliant and bold ideas, and where D&I become a part of the values and principles of the company.
I would encourage companies to look hard at what they’re trying to do with this. In a business world that is constantly evolving, D&I is a business imperative. If we can get everybody thinking about it and asking the right questions, we’ll see real change.