DIVERSITY: Beyond the check in the box
For the past several years, D&I has garnered the center stage in the world of human resources.
From the #genderequality, #Pride, #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements to the various corporate diversity reports coming out, it has truly occupied the limelight in every conversation. We have seen organizations conduct D&I trainings, give away handouts and literature. The topic is everywhere, in every
possible HR discussion forum. From sexism and racism to ableism and ageism, the fight for D&I is a battle on many fronts.
‘Balanced teams’ are better at problem identification and resolution. Diverse teams see more problems, they hold each other more to account and they’re also a lot more uncomfortable and challenging. But that’s what pushes them to be great, at the end of the day. They can actually profess for and empathize with the customers much more than the non-diverse groups. That in turn leads to well thought out products and services.
Are we fighting the long-term battle of biases or creating a few more of those?
What makes us different can also make it challenging for us to work well together. This is further complicated by internal disagreements over what to focus on. D&I is not a one act play but a culture that continuously involves resources and energy. So any action in the direction needs to be well thought
out and planned. More importantly, woven into a larger agenda of the company’s success.
It might come across as surprising that most organizations still believe that their workforce is diverse because they have hired ‘women’ as a part of it. Whereas, women must be included as naturally and as obviously as men. We need to realize that the parameter for diversity not only includes women, but it
encompasses diverse genders including cisgender, transgender people, as well as race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and physical abilities. Moreover, it is also defined by differences in age groups, academic backgrounds, personalities, skill sets, life experiences, and knowledge.
And that’s not just the problem…
Jobs for women candidates in the Indian white-collar economy increased by 35 per cent in February 2023. Despite these optimistic numbers in job applications, women have been required to prove their mettle at the workplace, overcoming several bias and gender disparity. The stereotypes still remain a hurdle. As per
the ‘Diversity Benchmarking Report’ released at HerRising 2022, the overall attrition rate among the employees was 9% while the attrition rate among women professionals was 13%. We need to remind ourselves that diversity is paired with inclusion. It is interesting to know that these two may be
interconnected concepts, but they are not at all interchangeable. If diversity is not supported by the backbone of inclusion, it may not really bring an impact, as in this case.
D&I needs to beyond a check in the box or a strategy to be politically right. Listening and evolving is your key to success. It’s quite possible that yourworkplace might feel inclusive to some, but not to others. For a transgender team member, it might mean sensitivity to add pronouns in various platforms and gender-neutral bathrooms. For a veteran, it might include a mental health benefit and flexible work timings to see a therapist. For a working parent, it might include a childcare near workplace. The advisable thing to do is to listen, use employee feedback to elevate their experience and create more equitable inclusion.
So what’s the solution? How does an organisation hire right? How do they ensure that D&I is a collaborate approach that causes business impact?
Leaving the space for more discussions
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