Resilient organisations take change or adversity as an impetus to evolve. The difference to a non-resilient organisation is that they do not just “recover” from difficulties; they adapt to the new circumstances. In this way, they transform problems into opportunities for sustainable growth. But how can an organisation be or become resilient?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are still considered a “nice-to-have” in many companies. When they come under pressure, DEI programmes are often the first to be cut. Yet DEI is essential for building resilient workforces and organisations – and, therefore, particularly valuable in times of crisis.

Resilience through diverse teams

Diverse teams have a broader knowledge base, enabling better environmental observation and risk analysis, especially in complex situations. They also tend to have fewer overlapping networks, which provides them with additional resources. This diversity of experience among team members increases the range of possible (coping) strategies and leads to better decision-making in difficult situations. Diverse teams are characterised by their innovativeness and creativity. This contributes to better and more successful coping with challenges.

Inclusive corporate culture as the basis for resilience

However, it is not enough to just hire people who are as diverse as possible (e.g. in terms of gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, religion, education, and ways of thinking). Companies must also create an inclusive culture where all employees are accepted, respected and heard. Only then can the diversity of the workforce have a positive impact.

A diverse workforce is of no use if employees do not experience “psychological safety”. This is a prerequisite for them to voice concerns, contribute ideas and share their unique perspectives.

In a rapidly changing world, continuous product and process innovation are necessary for sustainable management. Most of the time, the spirit of innovation diminishes as external risk increases. Unconsciously, we rely on old patterns and solution routines. A focus on psychological security in the company helps to counteract this tendency. Allowing “What if…?” questions fosters a culture that is open to improvement.

However, establishing an inclusive organisational culture requires the commitment of leaders.

Leaders can contribute to the resilience of an organisation

Leaders of an organisation are “drivers” inside of the organisational culture. It is important that they act as good role models.

How can you, as a leader, contribute to the organisation’s resilience?

  • Create spaces where employees can share their thoughts and experiences with colleagues and managers and give feedback. For example, structure team discussions or meetings so that the exchange is possible in large and small groups or individual conversations.
  • View mistakes as an opportunity to learn from them. Encourage your staff to develop and share ideas that do not always have to be perfect. Welcome dissenting opinions without condemning them. Assign and alternate the role of “challenger” in meetings.
  • Focus on clear communication, encourage partnership and invite people to participate in decision-making.
  • Encourage teamwork, which builds trust and a sense of belonging. Instead of rewarding only for individual achievements – which can distract from team goals and fuel a competitive mindset – be sure to recognise team achievements and successes.
  • Ensure a zero-tolerance policy for behaviours that affect employee wellbeing.

Do you need clarification on the composition of your team in terms of diversity and inclusion? Would you like to identify opportunities for improvement but need to know where to start? Our diversity benchmarking can help you assess the current state of your workforce and identify areas where you can improve. In addition, our compact online seminar Successful through Diversity & Inclusion provides insight into the broad range of topics DE&I can cover and gives you the knowledge and tools to build a more diverse, inclusive and resilient organisation. Take the first step towards a more inclusive organisational culture today!

About the author(s)


Sylvia Hodek-Flückiger Project Manager, Competence Centre for Diversity & Inclusion FIM-HSG


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