Diversity isn't just a political objective, it's also good for business. That’s what a recent article in the Harvard Business Review says. A number of academic studies suggest that businesses with a diverse range of employees are significantly more successful.
According to the well-known research bureau McKinsey, businesses that have a policy on ethnic diversity have a turnover that is 35% higher than the sector average, and businesses that have a similar policy on gender have a turnover that is 15% higher. What is the reason for this? According to the Harvard Business Review, diverse teams are basically smarter. Collaborating with people who are different from you challenges you to sharpen your thinking.
It works in the following three ways:
Focus on facts
A number of different academic studies suggest that diverse teams focus more on the facts. One study divided 200 people into different mock juries: all white, all black or mixed. These groups were given videos of court cases to watch and had to decide whether the accused was guilty or not. This is what happened: the mixed teams came up with more factual evidence and made fewer errors when discussing this evidence. And when they did make mistakes they were more often corrected by the other jury members. A second, similar study involved financial experts pricing stocks. The ethnically diverse teams produced 58% more correct answers than the uniform teams. Both studies concluded that mixed teams focus more on the facts and are more objective. According to the experts, this is because working in a less uniform team makes you more aware of your potential biases and causes you to think in a more open-minded way.
Better processing of information
In another academic study members of US college fraternities were asked to read the interviews conducted by a detective investigating a murder and to decide who was the most likely suspect. For the deliberations, they were split into groups of three, with a fourth person joining them at a later stage. In some cases the newcomer was a member of their own college fraternity, in others they were a member of a different fraternity. The outcome: although the mixed groups were less confident that they had made the right choice, their decision was more often correct. The experts concluded from this that mixed groups achieve better results because they process the information more carefully. Taking the views of an outsider into account appears to be counterintuitive, but the pay-off can be huge.
In order to be competitive businesses should always continue to innovate. According to a number of different studies one of the best ways of ensuring that this is the case is to recruit women and employees with a different cultural background. A study of 4,277 businesses indicated that businesses with more women are more inclined to launch radical innovations.* Cultural diversity also appears to be beneficial. A study of 7,615 UK businesses suggests that businesses whose management team is made up of people from different backgrounds develop new products more quickly than those with a homogenous management team. The conclusion is that hiring individuals who do not look, talk or think like you can allow you to dodge the pitfalls of conformity, which discourages innovative thinking.
Source : Harvard Business Review
*According to recent Belgian statistics only one entrepreneur in three is a woman. In Brussels, the situation is even worse: only 27.6 per cent of entrepreneurs are female. In order to improve the situation, the Brussels Chamber of Commerce, BECI, has joined the International Women Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC).
How to prevent a stroke with the help of your smartphone
Fibricheck is a medical application that anticipates strokes using just a smartphone. This kind of innovation focused on human well-being is at the heart of BNP Paribas Fortis’s sustainability strategy.
Digitalisation is affecting even medicine. Convinced that the digital world and the traditional medical world must work together, Fibricheck has developed an application to anticipate strokes. This ethos makes human interests a core concern.
By supporting this Belgian company, BNP Paribas Fortis wants to do its bit to build a more sustainable world and help new and inspiring ideas to emerge.
A diagnosis using your smartphone
Smartphones are becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives. We use them to communicate, cook and read... so why not for medical diagnosis? With Fibricheck, the user can now check their heartbeat, to anticipate the risks of a stroke. The Fibricheck application focuses on the most common kind of heart arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation, which is responsible for 20% of strokes.
How does it work?
Above all, it is important to know that Fibricheck is available only by medical prescription. Once you have installed it, you just need to put your finger on your smartphone camera for 60 seconds, for all the required data to be recorded. The algorithms will do the rest, to provide an instant result. If any anomalies are detected, the results will be analysed by a Fibricheck doctor and made available to your doctor. Technology is used to serve human interests.
An irregular heartbeat is not always easy to detect. The advantage of Fibricheck is that it does not need to be used in a specific place (e.g. at the doctor's surgery), or during a set period. It allows multiple measurements to be taken, to provide an overview of your heartbeat.
Checks in companies
The health of your employees is crucial. Heart arrhythmias do not always have clear, visible symptoms. Consequently, detection plays a crucial role in preventing the greatest risks. This is why Fibricheck is offering to check your employees.
For more information, consult the Fibricheck website.
Challenges when recruiting internationally
Recruiting a member of staff for relocation to a foreign subsidiary requires some careful thinking. We have compiled the questions that are most frequently asked when people are faced with this human-resources quandary.
International recruitment involves recruiting people in their company's country of origin and relocating them abroad to work in a foreign subsidiary. In a globalised world, this has become common practice. However, when setting up a Belgian company abroad you will face a series of legal obstacles, as soon as your employees cross the border out of Belgium. These include employment laws, residence permits, taxation and social security. These questions will make things clearer up for you:
Should I recruit before developing my strategy?
No. Before starting the recruitment process, the first thing that a company must do is clearly define what it wants to achieve in the country where the subsidiary will be set up. It must take cultural differences between the countries into account. If the company usually recruits locally to be on the same wavelength as its target customer, when recruiting internally candidates should be adaptable and self-reliant, but above all they should be fluent in the country's language (in English, at the very least).
Can my employee work in this country?
If the free movement of workers applies within the EEA (European Economic Area) and in Switzerland, you do not need any special permit apart from your Belgian identity card. You must have a work permit as soon as you cross the border out of this area. The paperwork to apply for this can be extensive and even complicated (particularly in the United States). It is essential you have a lawyer who specialises in immigration.
Do I need a centre of operations in the country?
If you want to employ staff in a different country, you should have a local entity. Depending on the country in question, a small entity (sometimes no more than a letterbox) can be enough.
Where should social-security contributions be paid?
In the EEA and countries that have a bilateral social security treaty with Belgium, the social security system in the country of work will apply. In situations involving simultaneous employment, the social security system in the country of residence applies. As a rule, an employee cannot be subjected to different systems. Outside the EEA, you should operate on a case-by-case basis (legal and tax advice is essential in these situations).
What about salary and working conditions?
Employees can only work in an export market if they have an employment contract adapted to the salary and working conditions of the country in question. As a general rule: the mandatory legal provisions in the country of work will take precedence over the ones that appear in your Belgian employment contract.
Where should taxes be paid?
Double taxation is not a very appealing option for employees who are being relocated to work abroad. To avoid this, Belgium has signed treaties with a large number of countries specifying the country responsible for taxing the salaries that you pay. As a general rule, workers are taxed in their country of work, except in cumulative cases (the 183-day rule), where the national law of the country responsible for taxing the salary will apply.
Can I recruit internationally from Belgium?
Yes, you can. For example, in the Brussels-Capital Region, Actiris has an International department, which selects candidates with an interest in working abroad. This body is a member of EURES, a network of more than 1,000 employment counsellors (EEA and Switzerland). If your employees do not want to be relocated abroad, its counsellors can also place your job offers on the EURES portal.
Should I go it alone?
Certainly not. The steps that you need to take before relocating one of your workers abroad or recruiting internationally are too complex for you to tackle without any advice; only a specialist firm will be able to help you take these different steps (residence permits, work permits, social-security payments, taxation).
Could your intuition help you make better decisions?
All of us have heard that little voice in our ear quietly persuading us of a new idea or a different way to tackle a challenge at work. But acting on that voice is another thing altogether. And yet...
Marcel Schwantes, an expert in workplace culture based on "servant leadership*", is well placed to recognise his intuition speaking. This small voice inside us has a tendency to bring out, from the deepest recesses of our beings, feelings that can be buried under rational layers of logical thinking.
People who are emotionally intelligent are more readily able to listen to this internal compass in order to keep themselves on the right track. But not everybody has this capacity.
How can we recognise the voice of our own intuition?
Here is some practical advice:
- If the voice signals a danger, it is undoubtedly your intuition speaking.
- Intuition speaks to you in a way you cannot ignore.
- First of all, we tell ourselves the voice is wrong.
- It gives us a message that is not particularly comfortable.
- We do not really want to act on its advice, or we tend to put off doing so.
- It seems counterintuitive!
- We allow ourselves to put it out of our minds...
Intuition and integrity – a perfect partnership
The reason why many of us still disregard this voice is that it can sometimes be unsettling. It pricks our consciousness and challenges our convictions, habits and belief systems. Yet it can hide precious inner resources just waiting to be revealed.
But to be able to utilise them, we must demonstrate integrity. When activated by the necessary bravery, this partnership between integrity and intuition can become a superpower that allows us to handle tricky workplace situations – or even run a company!
*Editor's note: Liberated leadership, as opposed to authoritarian leadership.
2030, the future of work
Will the labour market in 2030 be blue, red, green or yellow? Consulting firm PwC tried to create four possible scenarios. This interesting projection exercise serves, above all, as a reason to begin a debate about the future workforce.
What will the labour market look like by the year 2030? This is a question that needs to be asked in an era characterised by significant technological shifts such as the automation of tasks, machine learning, as well as the emergence of new jobs and the requirement for the appropriate "human" skills. The revolution changing how we work is like a train that set off a few years ago and is travelling faster and faster, bringing changes for all of society. And the challenge for HR and other departments promises to be a sizeable one as everything will evolve, both now and in the future: the concept of talent, skills, modes of operating, infrastructure, tools, recruitment and training. On the eve of this major transition, consultancy company PwC imagined four possible scenarios designated by four colours.
Red: innovation holds the power
This is a fictional world where the number of US full-time employees with permanent employment contracts collapses – to 9%... This near-future scenario is typified by a lack of regulation, and gives prominence to specialists, niches and technological progress. The pace of everything becomes faster still (creativity, market entry, etc.) and the risks are greater than ever; today's successes become tomorrow's failures. On the labour market, companies are seizing talented and increasingly specialised people. Digital platforms connect supply and demand via automated processes, and competition is rife for the most highly-prized skills. For workers, experience and the highest level of specialisation both begin to outweigh graduate qualifications.
Blue: giants rule the world
The corporate giants are at the heart of PwC's blue world scenario. The larger, more powerful and more global they become, the better they can crush their competitors. These giants are dominant; they increase their profits and impose their law, even on states. But what of their staff? They are ultra-skilled and have transformed themselves into a "super workforce" of elite workers whose performance, wellbeing and risk of breakdown are measured to an obscene degree. In exchange for this constant pressure and continuous monitoring, the employees of the blue future receive a whole host of services from their company (e.g. childcare, healthcare, and so on.).
Green: the power of corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSR)
Companies are obliged to forego motor vehicles that run on fossil fuels, and account for the impact they have on the environment and society. But this green future is not about "greenwashing". CSR becomes a financial imperative because of the weight of public opinion (i.e. consumer views) and other pressures. Advances in technology support companies to achieve their green objectives and offer their staff a well-designed, well-balanced and ethical working environment. Values, including trust and loyalty, are at the heart of the relationship between employers and workers.
Yellow: humans at the centre
Despite technological progress, humans are still the pillar at the heart of society in this imaginary world. The "made by me" label, which stipulates that no machines were used to create the design, is recognised as the hallmark of quality. This is a utopia dominated by equity and ethics, where craftsmen and women are revered as sacred. Regulations establish the concept of "good jobs" and professional associations flourish. Workers act in solidarity and seek to do "what is good" through their work. Flexibility, autonomy and accomplishment are the watchwords. Society is split on the subject of the virtues and dangers of new technologies...
By imagining these four exaggerated scenarios, PwC has opened the debate on the future workforce. The report goes on to examine the challenges posed for human resources management. Read it in full to find out more.