- She graduated 2 years back. Still Single. Marriage must be on cards.
- She has been married for 2 years now. A child must be on Cards.
- She has a 5-year-old kid. Is a second child on cards?
- She has two kids. But husband has a traveling job. Too much commitment at home. Almost like a single parent.
- She is 35 years and not married yet. Not sure her sexual preferences are in place.
- She is 40 already. I doubt if there’s any fire left in her. She must be looking for a job only, not a career.
- Her sense of style is too bold and loud for her age. She might be a distraction in the floor.
- Her name is ‘Ayesha’. Why’s the surname missing? Do I really need to hire a minority in my office?
- The job role involves late working hours. Cab and security guard for late night drop will be extra cost.
- This is a shop floor job role, with a lot of blue collar employees. Who will take the risk?
This may look like my banter against a hiring manager and his prejudice against the fairer sex, yet a lot of the scenarios above may be applicable to all mankind. Yet given the sad state of our social and psychological DNA that struggles to ensure safety of women, the above stance by hiring managers across industries is a reality.
As a result, over the years numerous organizations now find themselves in a situation with zero diversity and negative inclusion. This percentage is more prominent in the SME sector and unstructured enterprises.
What is Diversity and Inclusion?
The most common perception of Diversity and Inclusion is to have more employees from the fairer sex and minor communities. But the modern definition of Diversity and Inclusion includes non-discrimination against candidates on grounds of gender, caste, ethnicity, age, disability and even sexual orientation.
Why is Diversity Important?
During my initial days as Human Resources professional, I thought that Diversity and Inclusion are extremely positive steps towards a neutral society. It is good for over all development of a nation and index of the same. Then as I grew up, I felt a little disillusioned and thought that organizations talked about Inclusion and practiced Diversity only to be on the right side of the numbers management and look good from a socio-political perspective.
But, in the current business landscape Diversity and Inclusion has taken up an altogether different meaning. Organizations that have a good diversity ratio iterate some very logical consequences –
More Business Development Avenues
When an organization cultivates a culture of diversity within, it is open to diversity outside too. The forward and backward supply chain is likely to have for itself, more avenues open in the form of suppliers, vendors, clients and end-customers. In other words, business partnerships have a wider scope.
Diversity Of Thought
To understand this point let’s take up an example. A couple of days back, when the Indian Government implemented the Goods & Services Tax, an imminent lady reporter from a national channel said this, “This is what happens when you do not have a women in the board that is decided the GST rates. Otherwise, any woman in this country would tell you that Parle – G a brand of biscuits cannot be taxed at 15%. Parle-G is not just a biscuit in our country. It is also used by mothers across the country even in the most rural areas as baby-food.”
Making a Statement
One of my friends who leads an SME business in a metro city once said something that explained benefits of Diversity in the simplest form. He said, “Diversity is important because IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.” Yet, given our social thread, organizations that practice diversity and inclusion with honesty, make a distinguishing statement. A simple example I have come across is the presence of two petrol pumps in my metro city that are run completely by lady employees. A common man’s perception of these two petrol pump is that of highly efficient and least congested.
A Progressive Workforce
A diverse workforce that is tolerant of each other within their teams and with cross-functional teams, is likely to have more risk taking abilities and open to unconventional ideas.
Clearly, diversity will bring with itself varied thoughts of school that will help organizations make better decisions.
How to design Inclusion Policies for better diversity
Only if the top management makes a conscious decision to commit towards inclusion in their organizations, will the organizational cultural shift towards better diversity ratio. Below are some measures that will help improve Diversity and Inclusion in organizations –
Set up a Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Creating a committee will be an organization's first step towards making it clear across functions and hierarchical levels that Diversity will not be ignored anymore. The leadership needs to play a visible role in empowering functions and encourage them to support diversity.
Align Diversity and Inclusion Plans with Strategic Plans of Organization
Organizations can ease the labor of introducing Diversity and Inclusion policies on functions, by aligning Diversity goals to business goals. Linking diversity goals to business goals by logical means and for logical reasons will help deal with resistance among employees and decision makers at every level.
Stringent Hiring Policies
This is the very first level where the management can emphasize their commitment towards Diversity and Inclusion. There has to be a conscious effort to create a more diverse and inclusive work force. Hiring personnel should be trained to focus on talent and capability and not qualm over profiles for their gender, caste, creed, geography etc. Also, the talent acquisition team needs to send out a positive communication about diversity to the potential applicants, lest they will run a risk of losing out on talented candidates.
Vigilant Exit Analysis
Despite all the efforts by the management and committee, the real flag bearers remain the functional supervisors and middle to top level managers. If they are not behaviorally aligned to the organizational vision of inculcating a diverse culture, a continuous risk looms around the longevity of a diverse work force. Thus the management and committee should keep a close watch on exit trends. Wherever there is suspicion, a skip level exit interview or an annual interaction should be initiated.
Employees and groups should be encouraged to talk about the problems faced by them at the hands of diversity related issues. This can be done by a continuous communication strategy that informs the employees about the organizations Diversity and Inclusion mission and policy. Corrective action should be ensured to win over the trust of affected employee(s). Repetitive communication to reinstate the mission and policy should be carried out through different online and offline modes.
Maintaining diversity metrics is the simplest way to monitor and control the diversity policies and practices in an organization. A uniform format of metrics across functions and hierarchical levels will enable an objective analysis of possible trends in favor or against Diversity and Inclusion mission set by the Diversity committee. Maintaining metrics to project diversity results could go a long way in strengthening the business case in favor of Diversity.
Involvement Community Initiatives
CSR initiatives that focus on minority and gender elevation will help organizations create a positive impact on their work force. Initiatives could be designed to involve larger audience from within the organization to work for welfare of minor sections of the society. This transparent philosophy and action plan will go a long way in reinstating organizational commitment towards Diversity and Inclusion.