An equal world is an enabled world. Be it in our personal lives or at our workplaces, the onus lies on us to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and help create an equal world where opportunities are not distributed on a discriminatory basis rather accept and embrace diverse needs of the new-age workforce.
Which is where the role of leadership in creating an equal workplace becomes even more important. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Savneet Shergill, Senior Director, India Talent Acquisition, Dell Technologies India, shares her views on the concept of equality and key things organizations and leaders must do in order to create diverse and inclusive workplaces.
How do you see the current Diversity and Inclusion landscape in APAC?
While diversity has been a buzzword for organizations for a while now, but over the last couple of years, it is taking a huge new dimension. And rightfully so. Now more and more organizations are seeing the merit in driving this. Earlier, it was more of a target that people would aspire for. All that has changed. Because now it is not just a goal anymore, but a huge business imperative for any organization to run its business effectively and be more productive.
We all know that companies with greater diversity are more productive, more profitable and better at attracting top talent. They are more customer-centric. Hence it’s no more a good thing to do but has evolved into being a necessity.
Creating awareness around Diversity & Inclusion helps build an inclusive culture in the workplace. Do you think organizations are ready to factor in an inclusive mindset as a deal-breaker at the time of hiring?
There is no particular science behind knowing whether the person you are hiring is coming with an inclusive mindset or not. But when we are trying to hire at Dell, we do a probe into if the person will be a cultural fir or not. There is no scientific way of measuring an inclusive mindset but definitely, through conversation and dialogue, we generally get to know what a person’s mindset is. So recruiters are getting somewhat ready as they know the increasing importance of diversity but I don’t think we are quite yet there.
“There is a lot of work that still needs to be done to ensure that the messaging is getting through to all levels in the organization.”
At Dell specifically, we run this program called MARC (Many Advocating Real Change) for our people managers. The program helps them get conscious of the bias that might come in their mind while hiring talent or while dealing with diversity talent on their team. These sorts of programs help them understand and appreciate differences and they come out as a stronger team.
How can HR leaders work towards gaining leadership buy-in and ownership towards driving diversity and inclusion initiatives? What are the different areas of diversity that organizations need to work towards?
HR has to partner extremely closely with the leaders in driving diversity because HR facilitates and supports all of the organizational goals. But if you are not able to convince the leaders as to why are you trying to get to a certain thing, it will not happen. Fortunately, most of the business leaders today are aware that D&I is just not a good to have thing anymore. Also, all of the research and data around the benefits of diversity can be very effectively used by HR leaders to get the buy-in from business leaders towards D&I initiatives. If you a solution that is workable, measurable and makes business sense as well, then it’s always welcome by the business.
Of course, diversity is much broader than gender diversity. India, at the stage we are right now, from a pure measuring perspective, most companies are only kind of measuring gender diversity. At Dell, however, we make sure people are sensitized to the fact that diversity is all across the board. People could come from different cultures, different geographies, different ethnicities, generations-these are some aspects of diversity where still a lot of work needs to be done.
What are the key pillars of building a cultural fabric that fosters inclusivity?
The first pillar is leadership support-I think it’s very critical for any organization to have the leaders on board to drive any key changes. So leaders who walk the talk make it so much easier to build an inclusive cultural fabric. The second one is providing platforms to people where they can come together and ideate, specifically to foster inclusivity.
“If you can keep communicating and articulating as to where you want to be, basically have a clear vision and strategy around it-it gets ingrained in the cultural fabric fairly quickly and easily.”
What kind of metrics can be applied to measure the effectiveness of D&I initiatives?
In terms of pure data metric, one good metric is what is your hired percentage and what percentage of that is diversity. That is definitely going to help you track and up your game. Is it ahead of your employee representation? Because if you are hiring at the same pace your representation is, you are never going to get ahead. The second metric that is very key is how do you measure your retention matrix. At the end of the day if it is a leaking bucket of talent, then you are never going to get ahead than where you are.
Then we also measure the employee net promoter score (NPS). We find that engaged employees are happy employees.
“So if your employee NPS is high, you would generally know that the effectiveness of your D&I initiatives is taking shape and people are appreciating on the ground.”
What are your top priorities for D&I in 2020?
Dell has some very aggressive goals for diversity for 2030. For 2020, we are working on hiring recent grads and also freshers-basically diversity hiring from campuses directly. As a company, we are building different hiring and retention strategies, for women at senior leadership roles, because that’s where the pool tends to shrink a little bit. So it’s going to be our key focus area. Thirdly, we will continue to build an inclusive environment through various initiatives such as MARC.
We also have this program called License to Hire to make sure they understand what is the kind of experience they should provide to candidates, what are the dos and don’ts, what are the good thing to ask. This is a program we are running for everyone remotely involved with hiring to make sure that all discussions, interviews should be inclusive. When people walk in through the Dell doors-they should feel respected and treated well throughout the entire process. So we will approach it from all levels.
Can you tell us in one word what Diversity and Inclusion mean to you?
What really kind of strikes me is D&I in one word is basically fairness.