Over the last few years, organisations have been undergoing massive changes including business models, digital transformations, and hiring agendas. Today, diversity, equity, and inclusion are important boardroom conversations. More and more organizations are convinced that a diverse and inclusive workforce leads to better performance since employees feel happier and more comfortable in their work environment. This results in increased motivation and a more engaged workforce. Diversity brings in different perspectives enabling a better decision-making process. Research also suggests that companies with female board members tend to financially outperform companies with all male board members.
The adoption of a hybrid work model, due to the pandemic, has helped organisations in onboarding multicultural teams, propelling a rise in global employees. It is vital for these diverse teams to collaborate efficiently – the onus of which lies with the leaders and managers. As per a recent study, cognitive diversity can enhance team innovation by 20%. ‘Cognitive’ is the keyword here. Organisations need to be mindful that diverse teams mean diverse thoughts which may also lead to conflicts and concerns. From cultural misunderstanding and discrimination to challenges related to communication and integration among employees - there are obvious challenges we need to take into consideration. The aim must be to put together a diverse team that embraces the differences and leverages each member's strengths to collaborate meaningfully.
It is important to have a strategy in place that will help in building a diverse team which is cohesive, to realise organisational goals. And a few ways corporates in India Inc have been pledging to follow up on the mandates for diversity, equity, and inclusivity include:
Conducting sensitization workshops
One of the most critical aspects while developing any policy around diversity is constant training and building awareness It not only helps address conscious and unconscious biases but also addresses prejudices against underrepresented communities providing everyone with equal growth opportunities. HR leaders can play a key role in enabling these conversations through creative interventions for a higher impact.
Leader-led Diversity initiatives
In any organisation, leaders and their actions help set the standard and drive change. This is especially true when implementing practices and initiatives related to diversity. Leaders walking the talk and leading by example to model inclusive behaviour is key to employee experience and perceptions whether equal opportunity exists. Organisations may look at encouraging leaders to develop and amplify both personal and business narratives and demonstrate commitment through visible engagement and action. These stories of change are what employees would connect with.
Ensuring all-round diversity
We often tend to think unidirectionally about diversity – gender for instance. A lot of diversity conversations get limited to gender diversity or cultural diversity. We tend to ignore thought, personality, disability, language, sexual orientation, and age as important aspects of diversity. While working on diversity strategies, it is important that all the aspects of diversity are taken into consideration. Organisations need to ensure that they put in place, a clear diversity vision for the business. Above all, create a more inclusive work environment by establishing a zero-tolerance policy for any discrimination in the workplace and construct a favourable and easily accessible work environment for all lesser represented communities.
Focusing on mental health
Mental health, particularly among diverse groups, is a crucial factor to be considered within a workplace. Organisations and employees benefit from interactive and informative sessions, access to experts, mentors, and a platform through which the employees can reach out to an expert anonymously. Emotional and mental wellness is often ignored whereas it has a direct impact on productivity and an organisation’s overall success.
It is great to see India Inc. making great strides towards embracing and fostering diversity. In the larger scheme of things, building a work culture that is truly diverse and inclusive, especially in a country like India, can be challenging. What is inspiring, however, is the continuous effort made by the government, organisations, and leaders alike to challenge the status quo. By implementing favourable diversity policies, a company can not only grant certain privileges to employees but also create support systems that enable a level playing field.