There is little argument today that diversity and inclusion matters. Global companies like Google have popularised the concept arguing successfully that diverse teams and workplaces build employee engagement, increase innovation, and enhance the overall performance of the business. Boston Consulting Group estimates that between 96-98% of companies with a headcount greater the 1,000 employees have a diversity and inclusion program of some kind.

Yet it must be said the creating an inclusive work environment, that both reflects community expectations and drives productivity and growth, presents a number of challenges for executives. Are these programs actually working? What is the evidence that they are not simply a compliance initiative? Given the investment into such programs and the emphasis on the topic of inclusion across industry, should we be seeing a great return on that investment?

At Apricot Consulting our research has shown that more can be done to promote inclusivity and diversity into the corporate agendas. We have found that Shared Value Programs do more than just promote topical diversity. Shared Value is built on the premise that by establishing a shared value partnership between corporates and non-profits, that a collective social impact can be achieved through the partnership whilst ensuring commercial outcomes.

Recently Apricot facilitated a shared value program between AbilityWorks, a disability employer, Aurecon and Transurban. The partnership has seen a significant growth in the numbers of employed disabled employees whilst enhancing the diversity of the supply chain of the corporate partners. No doubt the impact of the program has delivered a significant uplift in sustainable diversity and inclusion, benefiting all partners.

Whilst diversity programs can make an impact, a Shared Value Program maybe the next step for your company to ensure long term and sustainable impact on critical social agendas and really move the needle on diversity and inclusion beyond a tick box exercise.

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