Diversity at Workplace
Sudeep Kumar Sen, Vice President, Gi Group, India, 0
Diversity evolved into a focus area for most organizations worldwide and businesses across industries are stepping up to create an environment acknowledging and respecting every individual’s needs. As we make our way through the 21st century, entering most workplaces will bring us face-to-face with infrastructural changes aimed at making the workspace more conducive to diversity and inclusion. From easily accessible pathways to inclusive washrooms and common areas, offices are taking myriad steps to bolster diversity in the workspace.
Alternatively, many workspaces are striving to create safe working conditions for women and individuals belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. Despite these progressive alterations, the actual abilities of the minority groups are largely ignored, leading to multiple hindrances on their way to the top of the corporate ladder. Meaning, organizations and the workforce need to realize that diversity is not merely relegated to conducive infrastructure – rather, it is a drastic change in the underlying mindset and this pivot can only be affected through consistent reinforcement.
Appreciating and Accepting the Need to be Inclusive
Organizations will be inclusive only if they accept diversity as seen in the outside world and, as a result, have adequate representation from each community. Empathy and acceptance of each individual in an organization is essential, but more importantly, they must be included as normal team members, respecting their diverse abilities and differences and making them comfortable. Efforts to handhold, mentor and train them so that they adjust to the work environment would be necessary. Creating ally ship and groups to share challenges and successes would also be extremely beneficial.
Fostering a Cultural Shift
Diversity necessitates a collective approach and contribution from all employees. It requires an environment where employees listen intently, acknowledge the other person’s feelings, own up to their misjudgments, and open up conversations respectfully. There is a tremendous need for education and sensitization programs aimed at fostering a cultural shift in the organizational DNA towards Diversity. This can only happen through a responsible approach and a focus on the end objective.
Bridging the Systemic Divide
Yes, facilities like gender-neutral and accessible washrooms, period leave, conducive organizational policies, biodegradable sanitary napkin dispensers, etc., are important for an inclusive and sustainable environment. At the same time, it is also imperative that organizations take consistent steps towards bridging the systemic divide and bring employees on common ground. Not only will it help them accept each other’s abilities but it will also fuel collaboration and inclusion in decision-making and other organizational activities.
What are the Benefits of Workplace Diversity?
Companies with diversified workforce experience many advantages over those who don't have diversified employees. Workplace diversity is not just something that improves your company’s reputation. Workplace diversity also has many direct, tangible benefits. A diversified workforce enhances Increased creativity, Increased problem-solving, leading to Increased profits, Improved employee engagement, Reduced employee turnover, Improved company reputation and also Improved hiring results. A company with a diverse workforce will benefit from the insights of all its employees, who bring a wide array of expertise and resources.
It requires policies that promote diversity, employee-led task forces, a variety of opportunities for connecting outside of the typical workday, recognizing achievements and structured feedback mechanisms
Steps to Improve Workplace Diversity?
The first step in improving your company’s workplace diversity is hiring more diversified employees. To make that happen, you should make your hiring process more inclusive and inviting for people with different characteristics. Below are the three focus areas and these needs to be implemented to make an impact -
(a) Hire staff form diverse talent pools will give you access to a greater range of talent.
(b) A diversified panel of interviewers brings more value to the table to understand the candidatures from diversified arena.
(c) Share examples of successful diversity programs done in other organizations or within same group entities and look for ways and means to adopt them and be open for the same.
(d) It is always top down, walk the talk and hence, very important that we leaders exhibit the same seriousness and respect to the diversity initiatives in an organization.
Promoting an Inter-Connected Approach
Many organizations struggle with adopting an inclusive mindset because the employees do not feel connected to their specially-abled colleagues. They either consider them as an inspiration, or an object of pity. Thus removing the human element from the equation. Our specially-abled colleagues are neither super-heroes nor weaklings – they are just like us and they want to be viewed through the same lens that we use to view ourselves. Removing this barrier will help drive a diverse mindset and this can only be done through an inter-connected approach.
Being a true peer ally is all about authenticity and building a culture that appreciates an individual’s different background, ethnicity, and belief system. It requires policies that promote diversity, employee-led task forces, a variety of opportunities for connecting outside of the typical workday, recognizing achievements and structured feedback mechanisms. Yes, it is not an easy task, but then, nothing worth achieving has ever been truly easy.