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Digital Adoption Accelerates Diversity & Inclusion

A global Deloitte thought leadership paper, published in June of 2020, states that the ‘new normal’ that occurred during the early stages of the world-wide pandemic was forcing organisations around the world to become almost exclusively virtual. Organisations realised that the ability to unlock their digital enterprise in near real-time has either showcased them as an industry leader or a weak link. Further research led to the realisation that organisations were investing in, but not achieving, their transformation ambition/return on investment (ROI). At the core of this challenge was a pervasive ‘tech fallacy,’ which led to excitement and investment in technology, but not in the human elements that needed to be mobilised to drive lasting change, and to move organisations from ‘doing digital’ to ‘being digital’. More than a year later, we still find that this is highly relevant.

In the South African context, we have found that digital transformation requires organisations to quickly organise around value. This requires pulling together diverse, multi-disciplinary teams to innovate and rapidly design new propositions. This needs to be done, with minimum disruption to business as usual, in order drive exponential change and growth. It brings to light the elevated need for organisations to become better at understanding the role of the human element as part of their digital business strategies.

In our recent client engagement with a large African insurer, we set up, cross-functional/mission-led teams around a clear purpose of ‘becoming digital’ with very specific sub-missions. New, agile ways of working were activated and embedded within each team in the form of work practices, principles and disciplines associated with the characteristics of mission-led teams. After four months of consistently embedding the shared purpose of the project and the sub-missions, together with the iterative application of the shared principles and disciplines, we learnt that the teams’ success was built on inclusion and trust.

The conditions for success are grounded in creating an environment where leaders, teams and individuals can foster inclusivity and trust in the system. This environment needs to be characterised by a shared purpose and shared ways of working (standards and disciplines).

Having a shared purpose transcends barriers to inclusion and brings diverse teams together around a common goal. It supplements inclusivity by creating a sense of belonging; fairness and respect; and establishing an environment that is safe. An environment where individuals, teams and leaders can experience a sense of empowerment and growth, which in turn stimulates innovation. Achieving this not only accelerates digital adoption and ROI, but further reduces risk, as it supports unblocking challenges and provides a platform for collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams. Purpose-driven organisations have shown improved profits and more success, pivoting in times of need.

We refer to shared standards and disciplines as our way of working and it consists of a couple of components that are visible within a mission-led team. These include agile work practices, digital collaboration tools & methodologies, as well as a set of behaviours that are intentionally designed to drive collaboration. Embedding this new way of working in multi-disciplinary teams (who come together around their shared purpose) unlocks collaboration, high performance, and innovation, builds trust and gives new meaning to inclusivity in the workplace.

At Deloitte, we work to ‘Make an Impact that Matters’, continuing our digital partnership journeys with our clients. Let us allow ourselves to take a fresh perspective on diversity and inclusion and realise that it is a business imperative accelerated by digital adoption.

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