Every year, we mark the arrival of spring and victory of good over evil by celebrating the festival of colors, or what is popularly known as Holi. From reds to greens to yellows to pinks, the atmosphere is resplendent with all hues, symbolizing love, happiness, a feeling of belonging, and togetherness.
The diverse colors in the color palette of Holi stand for different emotions and beliefs. While red symbolizes love, yellow represents energy and is synonymous with turmeric – an ingredient of great importance at auspicious functions, and green stands for prosperity. All these colors together compose the entire unified palette of Holi, which stands for coloring and including everyone in the celebration.This festival of colors is as much a festival of happiness as it is of inclusion – a much needed reminder for today’s society and workplaces alike.
So if inclusion had a color palette, what do you think are those primary colors that would define it?
Here’s what we feel:
The color of Equity
Over the last several years, as the focus on diversity and inclusion continued to rise, HR teams have increasingly focused on the need to look at the prism of equity. A business needs to recognize that each person operates out of different circumstances and has access to different resources and opportunities that are needed to reach an outcome.
“Equality is fairness, equity is greater fairness of outcomes. Equality is, for example, giving the same elevator to every employee, to be able to go from the ground floor to the 6th floor. But equity is giving an elevator which is differently-abled friendly, which accommodates everyone with their different needs. Equity can exist in evolved and mature organizations that have already walked on the path of creating an equal workplace. Equality is like a stepping stone to get to an equitable organization. Not every organization right now is at the stage of promoting equity. Equality, on the other hand, has been present in the workplace for quite some time,” says Aarti Srivastava, Vice President- Global Head of HR, Business Services at Capgemini.
The color of Balance
We often hear that most diversity efforts are not more than a hashtag or a box-ticking exercise. Why is it that we aren’t able to create meaningful impact out of our diversity & inclusion efforts? One reason can be the lack of ‘balance’ in these efforts. Balance in D&I implies constant checks and tweaks to balance multiple voices and perspectives of a diverse workforce.
Balance conjures a much broader vision than just equality for a specific dimension of a diversity, say women. At an organizational level, balance is critical for organizations to thrive. In fact, according to a recent study from Boston Consulting Group, companies with above average levels of diversity on their management teams reported 19 percent points higher revenue than their peers.
“It’s hugely encouraging to see more investment in diversity programs; we need this leadership and sponsorship from organizations to help move the needle within society. However, organizations need to be cautious that diversity and inclusion does not just become about numbers. It’s easy to get hung up on numbers, but they only tell half the story,” believes Margot Slattery, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Sodexo Group.
The color of Access
One of the most defining hallmarks of inclusion is access to everyone or rather equal access to everyone – be it the opportunity to learn or to grow in an organization. Giving equal access to all means giving an equal chance to all to develop and grow, without any bias or prejudice.
Inclusion cannot be complete at a workplace unless everyone feels they are working for an equal opportunity employer and have an equal chance of growth like everyone else, irrespective of their gender, color or backgrounds.
Meiyea Neo, HR Director APAC, Zendesk shares, “At Zendesk, we believe that equal access, opportunity, and belonging are necessary to cultivate a sustainable and meaningful culture. We do this through programmatic initiatives, both corporate and employee-led, such as mentorship programs among women and people of color, our Employee Communities made up of employee volunteers with shared identity, experience, values, and beliefs coming together to lend their voice to specific causes, and a communication channel through Slack for people to celebrate their intersectionalities and mental health experiences.”
The color of Belonging
In this age of resilience and perseverance, every employee craves for belonging. An organization that aims to bring harmony and communal value to their hybrid workplace, definitely aims higher than the usual standard of results and automation.
In the words of Mark Pearson, Senior Director, Talent and Organizational Capabilities Advanced Micro Devices,“Diversity connotes statistics and requirements while “belonging” connotes attachment and connectedness. Everything we do from a D&I perspective should be about helping people attach quickly to foster that sense of belonging and community.”
The color of Allyship
The onus of making our work environment inclusive rests in our own hands. While a top-down approach is needed to emphasize the significance of the inclusion movement across the organization, making that vision a reality is the responsibility of each and every individual, and this is where allyship comes in - being an active change enabler instead of a passive receiver of guidelines on expected behavior. Be the change agent your peers and leaders need to weave the fabric of inclusivity into the organizational culture. Be an ally!
“It is imperative that organizations empower individuals to call out discriminatory behavior irrespective of their titles or roles. There is a need to empower bystanders and allies. The accountability of building safe spaces does not lie with one person or one team; this is every person’s responsibility,” shares Sneha Suresh, VP & Head – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Wells Fargo India and Philippines.
Belonging + Equity + Access + Balance + Allyship = Diverse and Inclusive employee engagement
So this year, as we celebrate the festival of colors, let’s also celebrate the colors of inclusion! Wishing all our readers a very happy Holi!