Managers have a key role in enabling sustainable inclusion: HGS’s Shilpa S. Harsh
Shilpa Sinha Harsh heads the Global Corporate Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) teams at HGS. Her key responsibility is to strengthen the HGS brand across strategic areas such as media and industry relations, employee communications, digital communications, corporate branding, recruitment marketing, community relations and diversity & inclusion. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in corporate communications, corporate marketing, sales enablement and talent acquisition branding, with core strengths in driving integrated marketing campaigns across geographies.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Harsh shares key insights on leveraging technology to drive DEI and enabling D&I practices for sustainable inclusion at the workplace. Here are some key excerpts.
In an increasing data driven workplace, what is the role of technology and analytics in accelerating the DEI agenda?
Technology has a significant role in accelerating the DE&I agenda. Organizations are exhaustively focusing on, and increasing their spend in, technology to achieve their DE&I goals.
A 2022 McKinsey report reveals a strong business case for DE&I initiatives that can positively impact employee culture, boost innovation and resilience, and even deliver tangible business benefits, including higher operating margins and cashflow per employee.
Here are some ways technology helps in achieve the DE&I agenda.
Unconscious bias: Unconscious biases, also known as implicit biases, are one of the many critical problems that organizations face. Each step of the employee life cycle has the potential for unconscious bias, negating the most well intentioned DE&I targets. The recruitment process, for example, is the most critical in securing a diverse workforce. Organizations are extensively using various digital technologies to mitigate unconscious bias. Predictive Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Automation are showing positive results in fair and unbiased recruiting. Today, organizations are increasing their investment in technology for hiring, ensuring that skills remain the only metric while growing their workforce.
Candidate profiling: Use of predictive analytics in recruitment functions helps identify candidates who are ideal matches for the open roles. It gives insights not only from an organizational point of view but also from a candidate’s point of view. Both the company and the candidate benefit from finding the right fit.
Sentiment analysis: Using predictive analytics and AI algorithms, organizations can monitor employee sentiment and identify unhappy employees or those who are likely to leave, much earlier based on multiple HR data. This helps us take preventive action at the right time.
How do you see the role of managers in solidifying inclusion? How essential is manager sensitisation to enabling sustainable inclusion?
I feel that every individual in an organization has a role to play in creating an inclusive workplace. But managers have a key role in enabling sustainable inclusion. Therefore, it is imperative for managers, particularly, to believe in inclusion and be aligned with an organization’s DE&I goals. The managers should be trained and sensitize periodically to inculcate an inclusive environment. With the sensitization sessions they must create a workplace where employees can bring their whole self to work. To execute this task, organizations are using innovative and engaging methods such as quizzes, games, and skits to sensitize.
What are some of the biggest challenges prolonging sustainable DEI? How can organisations overcome these?
I feel the biggest challenge is to have a diverse and inclusive mindset and to believe that DE&I is not just the good thing to do but also the right thing to do. If the organization doesn’t have the right mindset, then whatever efforts you make, it will fall flat.
The second challenge is to get a buy-in of your DE&I ideas from the leadership that will involve resources and cost. Many companies are extensively investing in tech and resources to achieve their DE&I agenda.
To overcome these challenges, organizations must showcase the value of having DE&I rationale to the leadership. Research proves that a gender-balanced workforce leads to better productivity, better ROI, and better revenues. A diverse workforce inspires creativity and innovation. Additionally, organizations must also periodically conduct awareness and sensitization workshops for the leadership.
What are some ways to weave inclusion and allyship support in the flow of work, rather than occasional conversations?
DE&I efforts should not be limited to calendarized or special occasions but must be an ongoing practise. DE&I should be a culture, and building this culture requires a prolonged effort.
Here are some of the ways organizations can weave inclusion and Allyship:
- Mandatory awareness and sensitization workshops across levels
- Friendly, flexible and inclusive policies that is applicable to every employee
- Support and accommodation policy for the PwD and LGBTQ employees