Diversity and equity are crucial for sustainable business. Only with proper equity in opportunity can companies create inclusive products and services. On a practical level, striving for equity means to realise participation and inclusion of individuals across age, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion and worldview, physical and mental ability, ethnic origin, nationality and many more.
When collaborating with the international development community, businesses are faced with the question of how to tackle issues of equity and inclusion. We have spoken to various project managers at Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH about their daily work on diversity and inclusion.
“The focus on diversity and equity should be a no-brainer for companies, as it simply is the right thing to do!” states Marie Loerke, Advisor on Private Sector Collaboration at GIZ. At the same time diversity can boost a company’s performance. As McKinsey has shown in its study from 2020 on the importance of diversity, the “relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time”. Diverse backgrounds and thus also ways of working and thinking promote the competitive opportunities of companies. A first step for companies could be to implement predefined gender checklists in their processes.
When it comes to diversity, the inclusion of people with disabilities is an often-overlooked topic. However, the target group concerned is much larger than it appears at first glance. As Thomas Trümper project manager in the Global Project Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities at GIZ states, 15% of the world's population or more than one billion people live with some or several form(s) of disability. Their limitations are very individual, ranging from visible to invisible disabilities and from mild to severe ones. But above all Thomas Trümper emphasises that they are people like you and me, who want to and can make an equally valuable contribution. Helping them to overcome their very individual barriers, benefits all parties. According to Thomas, companies that take on the task of creating an inclusive environment not only tap into a large market of skilled workers, but also gain above-average loyal employees.
The innovative IT pilot IT Bridge Academy is a great example of a programme that supports people with disabilities to build careers in Kenya’s technology sector. B y collaborating with job seekers, partners, and international donors, they help participants to develop new skills and acquire work experience to unlock their potential and prepare them for the labour market - and ultimately change their lives for the better.
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Alissa Frenkel, Advisor in the Global Project Digital Transformation of the GIZ, sees particular great potential for the topic of diversity and inclusion in the areas of technology and digitalization. The unequal access to and use of information and communication technologies has resulted in digital divides between different population groups – between genders, urban and rural areas, or social classes. At the same time, new technologies are primarily shaped by a very homogeneous group of entrepreneurs and developers. These divides and biased technology designs can only be overcome through a higher investment of the private sector in upskilling and more diverse hiring practices. The Digital Transformation Centers of the GIZ support this task by connecting partners of the digital ecosystem and disseminating the benefits of the digital transformation in their partner countries while supporting marginalized groups.
The digital matchmaking platform leverist.de offers a variety of business opportunities with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Examples of existing opportunities for your business to actively participate can be found here.