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June 25, 2021

Our purpose transcends the “business case” for diversity

Ceridian CMO Brendan Reid shares why the financial argument for creating diversity in the workplace cannot be the catalyst for leaders to act.


We’re all familiar with the rhetoric and rallying cries about the so-called “business case for diversity.” The countless blogs and bylines aimed at applying an economic justification for increasing the diversity of our workforces.

“4 steps for building a business case for diversity and inclusion”

“The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming”

“The new business case for diversity”

As the executive sponsor for Ceridian Pride, there is one question at the forefront of my mind as we’ve celebrated and reflected during Pride Month, and launched activities and educational initiatives aimed at empowering our teams to be their authentic selves without fear of persecution due to gender identity or expression.

Why do we need an economic argument for diversity when the moral argument is so clear?

The financial argument for building diverse workplace cultures cannot be the catalyst for leaders to act. And, whether a compelling one exists or not, cannot be our focus.

For starters, we already know that strategies based on the overplayed economic argument do not seem to be working. We’re still behind when it comes to gender parity – the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap report states a deflating finding that parity won’t be attained for 99.5 years at this rate of progress. And McKinsey’s on-going research reveals that challenges, including, but not limited to, underrepresentation and discrimination, remain for the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace despite “outwardly visible signs of progress.”

The business case on its own is hollow. It does not inspire the deep moral conviction required to see this through. Let’s instead consider that we should champion equity and inclusion at work, because it’s the right thing to do. And that, as leaders, we have a moral obligation to shape and model this dynamic within our communities and society at large.

We also know that diversity in numbers alone will not lead to the results we seek. Without principled cultures that insist on equity, inclusion, and belonging, the promise of diversity – and of actual progress – will continue to be elusive. This is particularly important in a world of work in which employees are spread farther and wider than ever. Every company is becoming more global, whether they realise it or not at this moment in time. And it’s true that globalisation is revealing an inconsistent landscape for diversity, equity, and inclusion. From an LGBTQ+ perspective alone, legal, work, and social environments vary greatly around the world. For millions of people around the world, state-sanctioned harassment, discrimination, and violence are a tragic reality every single day because of who they are or whom they love.

Embracing a global talent marketplace carries with it a responsibility for organisations to acknowledge their moral obligation to build cultures that demand equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Just like a company’s values aren’t simply words on a website, diversity isn’t a box you check. And a truly diverse culture is built by creating equitable experiences and actively shaping the greater good. Your culture should be an expression of the role and purpose of your company in the world. Our purpose at Ceridian – the reason we exist – is to make work life better. Not just for some people – for everyone.

For us, it’s about building trust, helping people bring their whole selves to work, creating a platform to actively challenge societal systems, combatting bias, and applying data and experiences to rethink what equity and inclusion mean at work.

We’re manifesting this thinking at Ceridian across our product, policies, and programs, including major initiatives like our Global Diversity Council. Innovations like the DEI dashboard in Dayforce empower leaders to take real action. Our recent acquisition of Ideal helps our customers identify diversity gaps, combat bias, and get onto a path of equitable decision-making. Dayforce Hub provides a home for sharing culture, values, and vital information to people wherever they live and work. In fact, we used Dayforce Hub as we evolved our own corporate values earlier this year and welcomed thousands of new employees from different cultures and geographies to our family.

Makes work life better. This is our vision and purpose. Like many companies, it’s the barometer by which we measure ourselves and our impact on the world. We should never lose sight of what this means. Our purpose – and actions we take every day to serve it – are the barometer, not the price of our stock or a few basis points of profit margin.

We’ll continue to challenge practices, programs, and policies that are inconsistent with our values. And we’ll continue to push ourselves to live these values more deeply every day. We also acknowledge that the pace of progress varies greatly in different places around the world, so setting our policies globally while mobilising locally is a guiding principle.

I’m inspired by Ceridian’s theme for Pride Month this year – Can’t Hide My Pride. I’m inspired by the individuals and allies leading the charge and educating others both inside and outside our organisation. I’m inspired by those who identify as LGBTQ+ and courageously push forward to continue sharing their experiences.

And most of all, as Pride Month comes to a close, I’m inspired by the potential we all have as individuals and leaders to keep doing the right thing – and doing it every day.

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