For any HR strategy to succeed, one of the best bets is to turn it into a business imperative by highlighting not just the benefits that it brings to its people but also the enterprise for the long term. But not all leaders agree with this. In conversation with Shashi Kumar, Head of Sales, Indeed India, industry leader Sunita Rebecca Cherian, Chief Culture Officer and Senior VP-HR, emphasises the importance of a moral imperative over a business imperative.
While one cannot deny the indirect interrelation of DEI to desirable business outcomes, organisations must focus on ‘doing what is right.’ Indeed, there are different ways in which people discuss, deliberate and collaborate, but inclusion is a value that must be valued regardless of the statistics of diversity among your workforce. And this applies, especially in the recruitment space, where people of all communities have equitable access to jobs. Still, the critical factor is what employers do after the diversity-driven recruitment process.
Are employers on the right track?
In Indeed’s latest D&I report, 57% of employers were still struggling in designing and implementing the right strategy. On the other hand, those who did champion the cause might not have always been successful at meeting employee expectations, with the report pointing out an apparent disparity between employees and their employers regarding how they felt about the DEI policies in action.
Given these data points, one can see how there remains so much room for growth. And for organisations struggling to figure out how to proceed, here are three critical points of action that can help to achieve what we call a DEI transformation at the workplace:
Call out biases: Most organisations would like to believe themselves to be bias-free or would want to reach a stage where they’re free of such prejudices and misconceptions. But more often than not, this can be a utopian vision that might become a roadblock when it comes to unlearning some problematic practices. What would be more beneficial is to actively recognise and point such biases out as and when they happen because only then would we witness a meaningful difference in our DEI outcomes.
Know your DEI stage of growth: For Wipro, who’s leading one of the most brilliant programs, Begin Again for women on a career break, the reason they led with gender-focused DEI programs in their initial days was to proceed with their strategy step by step. They wanted to achieve desirable outcomes in this area and to grow and gradually develop themselves before they addressed the needs of other marginalised identities. Such a thought-out, planned strategy not only helps leaders uncover loopholes but also innovate to create more significant impact. Most importantly, it also brings in leadership buy-in.
Learn the pulse of your people: An organisation must zero in on their employee expectations when it comes to strategising for DEI. Being a listening organisation is fundamental. For example, ERGs have been a practice championed by many organisations to lead DEI. So much of this depends on giving voice back to your people and opening up the floor to experiences of diverse communities at the workplace. Doing what is right, after all, has a lot to do with meeting people’s ideas of what is right.
These form part of a framework where the organisations are not only intentional about their DEI but are driven to achieve real, sustainable change. After all, one can chase diversity benchmarks and rely on extensive statistics, but that is only a stepping stone to what more organisations can do to build a workplace that celebrates differences and strengthens an inclusive culture.