“Diversity equals representation and inclusion means involving the diverse talent in the process of growth. When inclusion is taken care of, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth.”
– Vipul Singh
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are the two pillars, upon which organizations need to be built. D&I is inseparable with growth, hence, needs to be at the heart of organizations. Highly engaged, diverse employees are the foundation for building a better company – and a better world.
Organizations must ensure the workplaces are inclusive, and employees are valued and helped in reaching their full potential. This kind of commitment towards diversity allows the organization to deliver great service to its clients. And importantly, it enables individuals to be more effective, empathetic, and responsible global corporate citizens.
We live in an era where embracing D&I is crucial for innovation and growth. The D&I of talent, clients, or communities should be built on a solid foundation of respect for all individuals to create a sense of belief that everyone associated would benefit. And statistics prove why we need to embrace D&I, quickly.
Towards the end of 2017, 2.4 million women fell off the employment map in India, says Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report. In the IT-BPM sector alone, persons with disability constitute only 1%, as suggested by NASSCOM. And the number of organizations fostering a workplace that’s friendly towards LGBT individuals seldom blips on the radar.
Emerging a winner in an ever-evolving marketplace is fast becoming a strategic priority and the aforementioned statistics can be discerning, even though they constitute a small part of the diverse talent pool in India. Hence, there is a growing need to adopt best D&I practices and avoid consequences that would be difficult to upend.
A Wake-up Call
A major reason D&I is important is to meet the needs of the millennials. Millennials have had the fortune of growing up around people from different ethnicities, cultures, and educational backgrounds; thanks to the vast regional differences within India.
For millennials, people with all sexual orientations thought processes, and disabilities are important, as well. Also, the global acceptance that grew in the last couple of decades has built millennials into more generous, compassionate, and empathetic people. In a nutshell, millennials realize that to achieve greater success as humans, every individual need to be heard and want to contribute.
In the wake of this cultural shift, positive and measurable changes within an organization need to be brought. And, the efforts need to be focused on a cumulative and multidimensional solution, rather than just the numbers. This means, hiring diverse talent just for the sake of headcount or to meet regulatory requirements wouldn’t suffice.
Diversity equals representation and inclusion means involving the diverse talent in the process of growth. When inclusion is taken care of, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth.
However, to be inclusive, any organization needs to cater to individual needs and tailor initiatives to address its specific industry and its areas of weakness. Furthermore, it is also important to understand, and adopt global policies surrounding diversity and inclusivity, locally. Incorporating the aforementioned isn’t easy, but the following practices can give an organization a good start.
“In the wake of this cultural shift, positive and measurable changes within an organization need to be brought. And, the efforts need to be focused on a cumulative and multidimensional solution, rather than just the numbers. This means, hiring diverse talent just for the sake of headcount or to meet regulatory requirements wouldn’t suffice.”
1. Visibility and Networking
The key to rising above an uneven playfield for women and LGBT employees is sponsorship. It is crucial to have the senior-level leaders elevate their protégés’ visibility within the realm of power. The leader needs to advocate the employee for key assignments and promotions. Also, leaders that are pivotal for an inclusive organization are those who don’t hesitate to put their reputation on the line for the protégé’s advancement.
This kind of inclusion always leads to the employees being highly satisfied with their career advancement because it invigorates ambition and drives engagement. This straight-up means that business leaders need to make all possible efforts to create an atmosphere where multiple voices are heard. The workplace should foster an environment where the opinions of all people are valued and considered, which is possible when this practice is ingrained in the company culture.
“Leaders that are pivotal for an inclusive organization are those who don’t hesitate to put their reputation on the line for the protégé’s advancement.”
2. Career Progression
The career success path is statistically murky for LGBT individuals, women, and people of colour. Several women off-ramp to take care of children and also, a large number of women don’t find their career satisfying enough. It only worsens when they get passed over for high-profile assignments. This is clearly leaving them with a sense of having missed out on the right opportunities. The same holds true for LGBT individuals and people from backward regions, too.
But here’s some inspiration: According to a report, companies with a higher number of women in executive positions have a 34% higher total return to shareholders than those that do not. The same report also suggests that companies with most women directors tend to outperform those with the least on return on invested capital by 26%. This clearly shows that D&I can be a way to succeed, especially in a time when organizations constantly deal with complex challenges and geopolitical shifts.
Fostering a diverse and inclusive culture is just a small part of the story. What’s more important is how well that diversity helps in bringing people together to work in unison towards a common organizational goal and drive innovation. When everyone brings their whole selves to work and contributes to their fullest potential, diversity becomes a fact and inclusion becomes a choice that individuals and leaders can make.
“Hearing new ideas will bring a shift in perspective that will help put together puzzles in a new manner.”
3. Role of Leadership
According to a recent report, 69% of executives agree that D&I is an important workplace issue. Also, there has been a surge in organizations and managers taking steps to resolve the issue; 38% employees commented that the primary push for their organization’s D&I efforts came from their CEO. The statistics show that senior leadership team is accountable to envision and realize a model that encourages D&I. Leaders in diversity and inclusion need to assert the globally promoted practice of free speaking within their organization. They need to encourage employees to voice out against biases and, if necessary, initiate a culture change and make every employee an essential part of it. These efforts will empower employees to take individual accountability and let the leadership team know when they notice a bias.
Inclusive leadership starts with self-awareness. Being proactive and introspective, this helps them identify their blind spots and build the ability to listen and learn which are crucial for tapping innovation brought by a diverse set of minds.
“When everyone brings their whole selves to work and contributes to their fullest potential, diversity becomes a fact and inclusion becomes a choice that individuals and leaders can make.”
4. D&I Drives Innovation
Finding innovative ideas is a lot easier when people on our team are from places and cultures different from our own. This can be accomplished either by adding people from different regions or bringing women into male-dominated industries. Hearing new ideas will bring a shift in perspective that will help put together puzzles in a new manner.
By creating diverse teams and focusing on real inclusion that encourages people to contribute their thoughts and ideas fearlessly, an organization can drive the kind of innovation that fosters unique connections, enables adaptability and drives profitability.
Building a diverse and inclusive culture is a chain of advancements, which, when combined, improves culture and understanding. The real challenge is making sure the ideas are considered and executed effectively. And, with the aforementioned strategies, organizations can take rational steps to become and remain forward thinking in the long run.
“The D&I of talent, clients, or communities should be built on a solid foundation of respect for all individuals to create a sense of belief that everyone associated would benefit.”