Advancing Diversity & Inclusion Through New Ways of Working

To harness the benefits of diversity, companies need to create an environment in which diverse perspectives are heard and all talent can thrive. We work with organizations and alongside leadership in order to build the roadmap toward a truly inclusive culture—and drive real change in the way people work every day.

Actions to Drive Change

Shifting to a more inclusive workplace requires companies to take a number of key actions:

  • Leadership Commitment. Our experience with and extensive research on managing culture change show that unless the CEO and senior leaders are committed, change is hard to effect. That commitment needs to run through middle management, as well, but it starts at the top.
  • Implementing Formalized, Structured Programs. Formal parental leave (including adoption leave) and flexible working policies are key to retaining diverse talent in the workforce. Our research has shown that flexible working is key to retaining women in the workforce during middle management years—and is thus critical to improving the diversity of leadership teams. 
  • Embedding Diversity Initiatives in Company Culture and Everyday Business Processes. Unless policies and initiatives are fully embedded in an organization—including within people and HR processes—employees will not be empowered or supported to take full advantage of them.
  • Creating a Safe and Open Culture. Employees should feel comfortable sharing their perspectives without fear of retribution.
  • Reaching a Critical Mass of Diverse Role Models in Senior Leadership. Role models are a necessity in improving diversity in an organization—allowing employees to envision a viable path toward a senior position.

Transparent Communication

Real change requires robust, transparent tracking of diversity metrics, with clear goals and clarity about progress. Companies need to share this tracking—in the form of scorecards or dashboards—and communicate improvements as well as what they are doing to address any shortfalls. BCG works with organizations to determine what the starting point is, both in terms of hard data and metrics.

Supporting Dual-Career Households

About 60% of all US households have two working parents, according to the Pew Research Center. The percentage is similar in Japan, and it is closer to 70% in Canada and Australia. These employees face a constant struggle to balance work and domestic responsibilities. And at many organizations, employees have few—if any—role models who have faced similar struggles and found ways to make everything work.

Companies can support dual-career households—boosting engagement, retention, and productivity throughout the workforce—in these four ways:

  1. Change how people work. Provide employees with genuine flexibility—including formal and informal programs that allow workers to manage their personal lives and get their work done.
  2. Change the culture. Leaders need to reward results—not just face time—and serve as role models by taking advantage of flexible-work programs themselves.
  3. Change what a successful career path looks like. Create an environment in which employees can choose an unconventional path—part-time work, a leave of absence, or a change in role or specialty—and still preserve future options at the organization.
  4. Change the support that employees receive. Offer gender-neutral programs, thereby countering the assumption that household duties are primarily the responsibility of the female spouse. And give employees access to the tools they need—such as videoconferencing, virtual collaboration, and tele-health services—to support flexible work.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion