Diversity & Inclusion

Disruption, diversity and Darwin’s law of natural selection

Why a flexible workplace is your best defence against disruption.

Disruption, diversity and Darwin’s law of natural selection

Why a flexible workplace is your best defence against disruption

The rate of change in business today is unlike any we’ve ever seen. Industries across the world are facing disruption on an unprecedented scale. Rapid advancements in technology and globalisation are enabling new online business models to thrive, disrupting existing markets by driving down costs and displacing established market-leaders.

And the impact of this creative destruction on human resources continues to be profound.

In today’s world, the skills that got you here, won’t get you there.

And if you’re not 100% sure where there is, it’s almost impossible for CEOs, let alone human resources professionals, to identify what a good employee tomorrow looks like today – it feels like every week there is a new list of the top 10 skills that will be required in 2020.

So how do you make sure your organisation not only survives but thrives in this brave new world of disruptive innovation?

At FlexCareers, we find it helps to take a step back and view disruption through the lens of an evolutionary biologist. In many ways, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution has similar parallels to what’s currently occurring in the corporate world.

Firstly, Darwin’s theory identified that change from outside ecosystems is both inevitable and unpredictable. In short, we don’t know what the change will be, we just know there will be some kind of change.

In the corporate world, new customer expectations and technological change is disrupting industries on all levels.

Secondly, in any ecosystem you’re going to find naturally occurring variations which will ultimately impact on the ability of these systems or animals to survive.

In the corporate world, organisations with a diverse pool of skills to draw on and who can adapt quickly have the competitive edge. Diversity of thought and experience will identify new trends quicker and enable the organisation to stay one step ahead.

Finally, the new environment ultimately selects winners and losers for the next generation. The survival of the fittest is at the heart of our planet’s evolutionary story.

In the corporate world, we’re already witnessing the demise of once-established market leaders as new business models emerge dominant.

As leaders and human resources professionals, what can we take away from our biological vs business analysis and the law of natural selection?

A diverse workforce enabled by flexible working practices is your best defence against corporate disruption. And the value proposition of diversity itself shifts from being “the right thing to do”, or even “we’ll make better decisions and make more money” to being one of survival.

There is now no question that organisations embracing diversity and inclusion are better able to adapt and succeed in the face of disruptive and unpredictable change. And at FlexCareers, we’re witnessing this trend first-hand on a daily basis.

Within diverse organisations, existing leadership teams are able to select new and emerging generations of leaders from within, with the right skills to then carry the business forward.

And a truly diverse workforce is only achieved by embracing flexible working and removing barriers that structurally exclude individual groups. By removing these barriers you’re able to expand your talent pipeline and also improve your talent retention.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

When used as a positive force, the process of natural selection provides the transfer mechanism from an old business model to a new business model. Maintaining sufficient diversity in your workforce is the only true defence against being disrupted.

And it follows in this evolutionary biological view of business that a CEO’s role is simply to enable natural selection to occur by ensuring sufficient diversity across your workforce. As we’ve learnt at FlexCareers, flexible work arrangements are an effective tool to achieve this.

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

About Joel McInnes

Joel McInnes


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