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Gender, Diversity and Inclusion in CGIAR's Workplaces

WHAT IS DIVERSITY AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

July 2020

01

What is Diversity and why does it matter?

CGIAR’s definition of diversity is ‘the fact or quality of being different; having a variety’.

When we use the term to talk about our workplaces, what we mean is the understanding, acceptance, and value that is placed on the differences between co-workers. These differences may be either inherent (i.e. we are born with them or into them) such as our ethnicity, race or sex, or they can be acquired, such as our education or industry experience.

We call these different types of diversity “diversity dimensions” and at CGIAR these are defined as ‘the variety of similarities and differences among people, including but not limited to: gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, native or indigenous origin, age, generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socio-economic difference, appearance, language and accent, disability, mental health, education, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role and function, staff position (covering hierarchy and national/international status), thinking style, and personality type.

But why does this matter? Put simply, we believe that having workplaces that are diverse and inclusive is the right thing to do.

But why does this matter? Put simply, we believe that having workplaces that are diverse and inclusive is the right thing to do.

CGIAR’s workplaces are multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary and multi-generational. But this does not necessarily mean that we have yet fully embraced diversity across all dimensions, in line with our vision.

On certain dimensions, our data shows that we are not truly representative of the communities we serve and the population in general. For example, one key dimension where we know we fall behind is gender representation in our workplaces. While overall it may appear we are gender-balanced, this is not the case when we look at professional roles and more senior levels. In the 2019 CGIAR Gender Snapshot only 18% of Principle Scientists and 25% of Senior Scientists were female.

CGIAR has an unequivocal commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace for everyone. Ensuring everyone is treated with fairness and dignity, and with an equal chance to succeed and thrive, is just the right thing to do. It’s an intrinsic part of our values, and in keeping with our mission-driven organization.

Beyond this, diversity in all its dimensions is increasingly becoming an essential prerequisite for many of our funders and partners. The risks of not enhancing gender, diversity and inclusion in our workplaces are significant, with CGIAR’s Risk Management Framework outlining that delivery, relevance, reputation, reliability and efficiency could all be hindered.

In addition, decades of data and findings from a vast body of credible, published research shows that having greater diversity is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do

Decades of data and findings from a vast body of credible, published research shows that having greater diversity is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.

Here is a snapshot of some of these benefits and the research behind them:

Improved innovation

The positive link between innovation and diversity has been well documented. Learn how it leads to smarter, more creative teams.

There is evidence that gender diversity allows scientific organisations to derive an “innovation dividend” which leads to smarter, more creative teams, hence opening the door to new discoveries. There is also evidence that underrepresented students innovate at higher rates than majority students.  One study  by BCG and the Technical University of Munich, looked at 171 German, Austrian and Swiss organizations. It showed a clear statistically significant relationship between diversity in the management teams and revenue from innovative products and services in the most recent three years (an established measure of innovation performance in the private sector). In separate studies we see that teams are as much as 158% more likely to understand target beneficiaries when they have at least one member who represents their target’s gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or culture.

Improved creativity, critical thinking and complex problem solving

Why are diverse groups better able to solve complex problems? Find out what the research says.

One reason why diversity leads to improved innovation performance is that diversity has been shown to increase both creative and critical thinking. It seems diversity encourages objectivity and fact-based decision-making. While homogenous groups may be susceptible to groupthink, diverse teams can leverage a greater variety of perspectives and are likely to consider information more thoroughly and accurately.

According to research by Scott E. Page, Professor at the University of Michigan, diverse groups provide a greater mental toolbox that improve a group’s ability to solve complex problems. Through his research he developed the ‘Diversity Trumps Ability Theorem’, which states that a diverse group of people with mixed talent will almost always reach a better result than a group of high “ability” individuals when solving complex problems.

Improved organisational performance

A study of 1,000 for-profit companies finds diverse leadership leads to better financial performance. Discover why…

There are numerous studies that show greater diversity leads to improved organisational performance, however it’s important to note that these studies rely on correlation analysis. Just because two factors move in the same direction together (i.e. as diversity improves so does performance) it does not necessarily prove that the one thing led to the other. It may be the case that high performing organisations also care about diversity. Having said this, a significant, consistent correlation between two factors is considered a reliable indicator that these results are likely to be replicated in any large sample of similar organisations. The most well-regarded study in this field is the  2018 McKinsey Report. This study reviewed 1,000 for-profit companies across 12 countries and found a statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance. They found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. This rose to 33 percent for ethnic and cultural diversity. While at CGIAR we don’t measure our success in terms of profit, we know that many of the indicators that drive performance in the for-profit sector also apply to non-profits (e.g. employee attraction, retention and engagement, management decision-making etc). Other types of diversity also positively impact organisational performance. A recently published study showed that organizations with high levels of racial diversity realized superior productivity compared to organizations with low levels of racial diversity. Additional research also shows the impact that diversity at the highest level in an organisation can have on effective risk-management, and in the reduction of fraud, corruption and bribery.

Building Employer Reputation

Diverse and inclusive workplaces are increasingly important to employees. See how it improves employer reputation.

Diversity and inclusion have also been shown to be an essential component for attracting and engaging today’s workforce. Many are seeking inclusive cultures where they can be themselves, have flexibility, and engage in purposeful work. This is especially true for the new generation, with one study showing that 47% of Americans born between 1983 and 2000 stated that if they were looking for a new job tomorrow, a diverse and inclusive workplace would be important in their job search.

Access to a broader talent pool

CGIAR recruits from around the world, but only 28% of all our scientists are female. Exploring talent recruitment through a GDI lens represents a major opportunity.

It is critical for any leading organisation to be able to access the very best talent. In 2017 53% of Doctoral Degrees in the US were awarded to women (52.6% in the field of Biological and Agricultural Science), making it the ninth year running that women earned the majority of doctoral degrees at U.S. universities. In Europe, women also represented 47.9% of all doctoral degrees awarded. While we recruit from around the world, only 28% of all CGIAR scientists and just 34% of all our post docs are female, suggesting that there are opportunities to explore our talent approaches through a GDI lens. Whether intentional or unintentional, when we limit ourselves to hiring a narrow, homogenous group of people, we are missing out on significant segments of talent. Being open and intentional to hire employees from a broader range of diversity dimensions will give CGIAR access to all the best talent available.

Employee Retention

Inclusion can be a critical factor in determining whether employees stay or go. Can HR policies make a difference?

Diversity has been shown to be strongly correlated to employee retention: In numerous studies and surveys, employees indicate that inclusion is not just a nice-to-have but often a critical factor in determining whether they will stay or leave an organization. It’s also been shown that organizations with higher levels of gender diversity and with HR policies and practices that focus on gender diversity are linked to lower levels of employee turnover. Employee turnover is costly to any organisation. The US Department of Labour estimated that it costs about 33% of a new recruit’s salary to replace an employee who left their job. For highly-skilled jobs at much higher salary levels, costs may be driven up to 150% of the position’s annual salary.

There are numerous studies that show greater diversity leads to improved organisational performance, however it’s important to note that these studies rely on correlation analysis. Just because two factors move in the same direction together (i.e. as diversity improves so does performance) it does not necessarily prove that the one thing led to the other. It may be the case that high performing organisations also care about diversity. Having said this, a significant, consistent correlation between two factors is considered a reliable indicator that these results are likely to be replicated in any large sample of similar organisations. The most well-regarded study in this field is the  2018 McKinsey Report. This study reviewed 1,000 for-profit companies across 12 countries and found a statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance. They found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. This rose to 33 percent for ethnic and cultural diversity. While at CGIAR we don’t measure our success in terms of profit, we know that many of the indicators that drive performance in the for-profit sector also apply to non-profits (e.g. employee attraction, retention and engagement, management decision-making etc). Other types of diversity also positively impact organisational performance. A recently published study showed that organizations with high levels of racial diversity realized superior productivity compared to organizations with low levels of racial diversity. Additional research also shows the impact that diversity at the highest level in an organisation can have on effective risk-management, and in the reduction of fraud, corruption and bribery.

Diversity and inclusion have also been shown to be an essential component for attracting and engaging today’s workforce. Many are seeking inclusive cultures where they can be themselves, have flexibility, and engage in purposeful work. This is especially true for the new generation, with one study showing that 47% of Americans born between 1983 and 2000 stated that if they were looking for a new job tomorrow, a diverse and inclusive workplace would be important in their job search.

It is critical for any leading organisation to be able to access the very best talent. In 2017 53% of Doctoral Degrees in the US were awarded to women (52.6% in the field of Biological and Agricultural Science), making it the ninth year running that women earned the majority of doctoral degrees at U.S. universities. In Europe, women also represented 47.9% of all doctoral degrees awarded. While we recruit from around the world, only 28% of all CGIAR scientists and just 34% of all our post docs are female, suggesting that there are opportunities to explore our talent approaches through a GDI lens. Whether intentional or unintentional, when we limit ourselves to hiring a narrow, homogenous group of people, we are missing out on significant segments of talent. Being open and intentional to hire employees from a broader range of diversity dimensions will give CGIAR access to all the best talent available.

Diversity has been shown to be strongly correlated to employee retention: In numerous studies and surveys, employees indicate that inclusion is not just a nice-to-have but often a critical factor in determining whether they will stay or leave an organization. It’s also been shown that organizations with higher levels of gender diversity and with HR policies and practices that focus on gender diversity are linked to lower levels of employee turnover. Employee turnover is costly to any organisation. The US Department of Labour estimated that it costs about 33% of a new recruit’s salary to replace an employee who left their job. For highly-skilled jobs at much higher salary levels, costs may be driven up to 150% of the position’s annual salary.

While these are compelling and well evidenced benefits, we have to ask ourselves why do these matter to CGIAR?

In CGIAR’s workplaces, where creativity, responsiveness and collaboration are essential to our success, advancing workplace gender, diversity and inclusion allows us to draw on different perspectives to enhance the quality of our decision making, deepen the relevance of our advice and outputs, and enhance our efficiency and effectiveness. We need teams that are more diverse and inclusive, so we can consistently problem-solve more successfully on some of the world’s most pressing and complex issues. To do this we need to be able to attract, retain and engage a broader range of the best talent, and to future-proof our work we must be able to attract the newer generation, many of whom see diversity and inclusion as a pre-requisite. Most importantly, as the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network, we need to continually excel at innovation. We recognize that diversity powers innovation and that increasing the representation of women in top management improves the performance of organizations that are heavily focused on innovation.

In short, we believe that creating and sustaining diverse, inclusive work cultures and enabling workplaces is critical to delivering on our mission. It’s not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have for our future success.

All the guides in the series