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I have a dream… for the world to be the most inclusive place

Diversity and Inclusion By Olga Litkovets, Director of Business Development and Marketing MENA – 17 November 2021

World map made up of illustrated figures


Olga Litkovets in office

Olga Litkovets

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Living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the past thirteen years has given me the chance to connect and work with so many cultures and ethnicities and truly experience how diverse our world is.

Reflecting on the UAE’s progress and success in becoming one of the top countries in the world within a relatively short period of time is nothing less than inspiring.

How has this been possible?

From my personal observation, it’s the strong drive of country leaders and their openness to new ideas, cultures, flexibility, and a drive to perform at their best that has encouraged so much talent to come to the country.

What if we take this as a great example and implement it at our work, home and community?

Frequently, when we speak about diversity and inclusion within our industry, we refer only to gender, yet there is so much more to it.

Have you ever noticed when you attend an event and don’t know anyone, that you look around and gravitate towards people who are like yourself? Perhaps they speak the same language, are the same gender or are from the same city and went to the same university – you immediately feel interested and comfortable in your discussion. Without realising it, this is your unconscious bias giving you a signal that it is safe. Our brain is wired to protect us, similar means safe and therefore we unconsciously choose people who are like us. If you look at any leadership team, what do you see? Are they from the same country? Background? Ethnicity? If yes, they have responded to unconscious bias and may unfortunately be limiting themselves in performance.

The flow of ideas and different perspectives that a diverse team produces can hugely benefit teamwork and a business’s overall performance. Studies have shown that in the short term, a team with similar backgrounds might perform better as it is easier for them to get along well based on commonalities. However in the long term, a diverse team will outperform by 25%. This is a substantial figure for any business's bottom line (McKinsey & Company, “Why diversity matters”).

The other important factor to consider when it comes to diversity is inclusion. It is not enough just to hire people for the sake of numbers. The real challenge that all leaders and teams face is how to ensure everyone is respected and valued so they can perform at their best. Diversity is in numbers; inclusion is an impact.

According to another study of inclusive leaders, over 80% of employees reported improved productivity, motivation, innovation, and creativity. Collaboration was also enhanced and there was greater engagement and loyalty (Opportunity Now and Shapiro Consulting report).

Inclusive leadership is hugely important for any team to be high performing.

At Cundall, we do a lot of work around inclusion because we truly believe this will create the biggest impact. It goes far beyond being just a workplace. Happy employees will bring this mindset home and share it with their family and friends who in turn will influence wider communities. As a result, we can make a bigger impact on our society. We must all play our part to help the world become more inclusive, treating all genders, cultures, and ethnicities equally.

Our goal is for any young engineer of any ethnicity or gender to look at Cundall and believe that they can build a bright future in the company. It’s only through collaboration, openness to new perspectives and inclusivity that we can build a better future for us all.