Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) is a term that has caught the eyeballs of several large organisations and gained a lot of traction, especially over the last decade. In 2020, the death of George Floyd gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, which drew attention to DE&I initiatives in corporations, or the lack thereof!
In India, earlier, the context of diversity did not extend beyond women’s representation in the workforce. That is slowly, but surely changing now. In September 2018, the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality by scrapping section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This threw a sharp focus on the support to LGBTQ employees at the workplace. However, a lot still needs to be done to welcome gender minorities into the workplace.
A diverse workplace is one where people from different backgrounds work together — for example those with diverse educational backgrounds, cultures, race, gender, sexuality, language, ethnicity, age and so on.
It is crucial for organisations to embrace diversity and make all employees feel “included” and inspire and enable them to be active participants of the workforce. Employees should be made to feel engaged with the company and must be provided equal opportunities at the workplace, irrespective of their background. A McKinsey survey of more than 1,000 large organisations in 15 countries found that companies with the most gender and ethnic diversity on executive teams outperformed less diverse companies on profitability.
“... embracing diversity, in my mind, requires creating a set of norms that support people feeling included and important and their perspective feeling valued. Because if they don’t, and if they feel it’s too risky to put forward a viewpoint, then they’re not going to do it, and you’re not going to be able to reap the benefits of diversity.”
If diversity is really such a big deal, why do some organisations still not take it seriously? Why do they hesitate or hold back from employing diverse workforces?
In spite of all the buzz around DE&I, even top companies struggle with building diverse workforces. While it sounds great on paper, it could get challenging to actually implement diversity and inclusion at workplaces There are several reasons why some organisations, do not actively hire diverse candidates at their workplaces:
Companies obtain a competitive advantage and better team performance by embracing workplace diversity. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and benefits:
Diverse teams that are comfortable sharing their opinions and points of view with the rest of the team members help in getting every team member to become more comfortable with conflict, pushing them towards deeper thinking and working through the conflict to arrive at the best decision or solution to a problem.
“High-performance teams are needed for project and product design, and engineering activities. And those that advocate diversity and inclusive behaviors help to scale digital initiatives.”
“Diversity drives our innovation. We believe if you only surround yourself with people who look like you, walk like you and talk like you, you will have the same blind spots. You will miss the same trends. You will miss the same curves in the road.”
All the hesitation to boost diversity notwithstanding, companies are becoming aware that the advantages of promoting diversity at their workplaces far outweigh the disadvantages! It is crucial that companies, their board of directors and their HR teams place great emphasis on making inclusion and diversity a key priority and not just pay lip service to it. This is because promoting DE&I is not only the right thing to do but also can have a real impact on the company’s financial performance. Companies should ensure that as they build more diverse workforces, they make provisions and policies to allow the diversity to flourish and get embedded in the organisation's DNA.
Several multinationals are taking steps and starting initiatives with the aim of promoting DE&I within their walls. Building diverse teams requires a systematic approach to hiring and recruitment. Careernet Prism, an offering from Careernet, has been helping enterprises with D&I recruitment strategies and talent pool creation. Careernet helps find the best talent from among women (including back to work programmes), people across regions and ethnicity, persons with disabilities (PwD), LGBTQ+ and veterans. In fact, every third candidate placed by Careernet is a woman and a third of the women candidates placed by Careernet are in middle management roles. write to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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