The Business Benefits of a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

Why diversity is good for business: Recruiting a diverse and inclusive workforce supports sustainability, creativity and business performance


Could water and wastewater authorities learn from the video games industry? A study of 4,011 video game projects published by The National Library of Medicine, found that increased diversity and inclusion within the projects led to an increase in creativity. Yet, many businesses still overlook the positive impact of recruitment on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) obligations. Here, Greg Brotherton, Resourcing Advisor for Ovarro, a specialist in remote telemetry systems, explains how aligning ESG principles with recruitment for engineering roles can support creativity, product innovations, and even benefit manufacturers’ bottom line.

The gaming industry study — conducted by academics from the University of Oxford, UK, and University of Budapest in Hungary — measured gaming projects on their gender diversity plus inclusivity. The results showed that teams with low inclusivity, “when there is a ‘token’ female team member highly integrated in a male network,” were less creative. Those with high inclusivity, “based on de-segregation, strong ties across genders and the incorporation of women into the core of the team,” produced more creative results.

This is a great example of how the social criteria of environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals can benefit businesses in unexpected ways. Indeed, Forbes magazine reports that diversity boosts innovation and financial results, quoting the book How Diversity Makes Us Smarter: “Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity simply does not.”

Yet, despite these creative and financial advantages, many companies overlook the significant impact of recruitment practices on their ESG goals. Let’s look more closely at the benefits.

Diversity and inclusion

First, why are ESG objectives so important? Increasingly, businesses’ ESG commitments demonstrate their conduct in relation to environmental preservation and societal welfare — which include human rights and labour practices. ESG objectives have become a big obligation for businesses, particularly for investors and socially conscious stakeholders, who are increasingly basing their investment choices on companies’ ESG performance.

Investopedia reports that, “Behaving in a consistently ethical manner can lock in a solid reputation and long-term financial rewards for companies,” while a study of 366 public companies by McKinsey found those with more diverse management teams were more likely to have higher financial returns.

What steps can businesses take to promote these qualities in their workforce? Examples from our own business include Ovarro being a Real Living Wage and Disability Confident employer, we also are looking to build inclusive teams through various diversity, ethnicity and inclusion (DEI) projects. That includes, to paraphrase The National Library of Medicine’s report, integration diversity into the core of our teams’ networks.

For instance, Ovarro strives to see interview candidates from diverse backgrounds to encourage representation and inclusion at all levels in the organisation. We also hold regular training sessions to eliminate unconscious bias from the recruitment strategy and process.

Inspiring Gen Z

Strong ESG principles can also help attract top talent. A YouGov study found that 75 per cent of Millennials and post-Millennials (Generation Y and Z, respectively) are open to taking a reduced salary in exchange for employment at an environmentally responsible company; while 64 per cent would not consider working for a company lacking strong social values.

Ovarro's partnerships with educational institutions, such as the UK’s University of Sheffield and University of Huddersfield, among others, play a crucial role in its recruitment initiatives for ESG goals. These partnerships involve collaborating with universities, colleges and schools to create programs and initiatives that promote awareness of ESG issues and prepare students for careers that align with these values.

At Ovarro, where we specialise in developing technology for monitoring and controlling water, energy and infrastructure networks, attracting candidates passionate about sustainability is paramount. However, my prior experience recruiting for a racing video game company taught me the importance of seeking candidates who not only possess passion for the sector, but also fill knowledge gaps and challenge the team.

Similarly, at Ovarro, we prioritise candidates with a passion for sustainability while ensuring diversity in our talent pool. In fact, we have recently launched another ambitious graduate training program, which encompasses both engineering and sales opportunities. The latter is harnessing the potential of recent graduates to bolster Ovarro’s sales function through data analytics, and eventually develop a dedicated sales operations team. By investing in their education and development, Ovarro can cultivate a pipeline of candidates who are passionate about ESG principles.

The graduates are all enthusiastic about their roles at Ovarro, eager to develop skills, collaborate and contribute to the company's mission to help drastically reduce water leakages around the world. It is just one example of how, to quote The National Library of Medicine study, businesses can greatly enhance the future development of its own leak-detection solutions by improving “the collective intelligence and creative capacity” of teams.

Take a look at our vacancies