Bias, conscious or unconscious, against racial groups, genders, LGBTIQ+, and other marginalised groups is a widely acknowledged phenomenon, and as a survey shows, persists in workplaces.
As per a recent report by global job site Indeed, 24% or nearly one in four employees believe that they are ignored in social settings and meetings, while 23% feel physically or emotionally threatened and 22% face slurs and innuendos during interactions.
According to employees surveyed, biases linked to disability status (47%) and gender and sexual orientation (44%) dominate Indian workplaces, followed by age and marital status (36%) and religion, caste and ethnicity (33%).
From employers’ perspectives, organisations have instituted various measures to address these concerns of discrimination and be receptive to inclusivity. The most prominent among these measures are sensitisation workshops and communication initiatives (68%), employee resource groups and similar measures (41%), and promoting LGBTIQ+ rights in the workplace (37%).
This highlights that Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DI&B) measures are critical in countering unconscious biases in the long run. However, the implementation does not match.
The findings of the report, titled 'Uncovering Blind Spots: Outlook on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DI&B) in Indian workplaces', include that 77% of the employers surveyed believe that not prioritising DI&B could adversely affect their organisational performance.
The report examined how prepared Indian employers are with DI&B initiatives, the impact of such programmes on the organisations, and how companies can further achieve inclusion at workplaces.
According to the report, 39% of employers believe that DI&B awareness in their organisations do not quite measure up. Additionally, 40% of employers do not have a formal approach to DI&B, even though they are of the opinion that they are inclusive or actively discouraging discrimination.
This highlights the disparity between what employers believe and the reality of DI&B policies within the organisation. This is primarily due to various challenges such as lack of leadership vision or using a one-size-fits-all approach that they face informally implementing. Only 21% of organisations surveyed have instituted formal DI&B policies.
The survey also points out that 73% of employees wish to work at organisations that actively promote such initiatives. This is a testament to the fact that culture plays a strong role in attracting, retaining employees and hence, employers need to induct proper initiatives to solve the talent crunch issues they currently face.
“Greater acceptance of a diverse workforce has been gaining ground among Indian employers for more than a decade now. The new configurations of work due to the pandemic and the ongoing talent war have accelerated the journey towards Diversity, Inclusivity and Belonging.
"Companies understand that these initiatives are valuable in attracting and retaining talent, boosting innovation and productivity, enhancing employee engagement, and responsible for overall growth of the company. With nearly half of all employers surveyed (49%) having implemented DI&B initiatives over the past 18 months or more, we can see that prioritising DI&B is at the forefront for organisations,” said Sashi Kumar, Head of Sales, Indeed India.
Large organisations taking the lead
Large organisations have been leading the curve when it comes to DI&B initiatives.
More than two out of three large businesses are aware or very sensitive to the cause with 37% of all large organisations surveyed having laid out formal DI&B policies and 33% having adopted these policies.While 73% of small businesses either have inadequate awareness or lack awareness altogether, a significant proportion of medium-sized (19%) and small organisations (12%) than large (10%) are on the path to formalisation.
IT and knowledge services lead, with 33% of the respondents from the sector having instituted formal policies, while 71% of the media and entertainment sector respondents are planning to formalise these. Tech hub, Hyderabad, has the highest proportion of respondents who have instituted formal policies (35%), while Delhi, with 71%, leads the intent to formalise and Chennai leads cities on adoption with 36%.
This survey, conducted by Valuvox on behalf of Indeed among employers and employees, concluded in March 2022. A total of 1,142 employers and 1,430 employees across 10 sectors – such as banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), IT, Media and Entertainment, Retail, and Telecommunications – and across 11 Indian cities were surveyed.