Blog: Critical Conversations in Diversity and Inclusion


Critical Conversations in Diversity and Inclusion

The diversity wheel consists of many elements
Critical Conversations in Diversity and Inclusion

As part of the L&D Leadership League, Kripa Krishnamoorthy, Head HR Institutional Clients Business & Global Functions, Citi Bank, India conducted a masterclass webinar with People Matters on the topic, ‘Critical Conversations in Inclusion’.

Krishnamoorthy started the masterclass by distinguishing between diversity and inclusion. Diversity, she emphasized, is getting the mix right; inclusion is making that mix work well.  So while the objective for companies could be diversity, the end goal should be inclusion.

As part of an intrinsically intertwined diverse organisation/society, people often end up with unconscious bias. For instance, in a research conducted in America among Fortune 500 companies, it was revealed that attractive men are paid more than men who have below average looks, and men in general earn more than women. It is really to be asked whether attractive men and women in general always perform better. Further, the research also found that only 14.5 per cent of American men are above 6 feet in height, yet 60 per cent of the Fortune 500 Companies’ CEOs are above 6 feet. So, is it to say that the taller the man, higher the probability that he will perform better as a CEO? Even ethnicity and accent revealed as factors determining professional success. All of these clearly indicate a need for awareness regarding the various elements which can unconsciously bias us.

Many people see diversity to be “out there”, but in fact, it forms a wheel. The diversity wheel does not only include gender or the physically impaired; it is a wheel that consists of elements such as sexual orientation, age, work experience, race, etc. To be able to identify and move towards diversity, people need to ACT; Krishnamoorthy defines ACT as Awareness, Commitment and Tailoring that can lead to building inclusion.

A company can create ethos of inclusion by highlighting the four levers, or the four As, in building inclusion:

1)      Accountability: engaging the top management of the organisation is crucial to creating accountability for building inclusion, since diversity vision is the strongest when it comes from the top most executive.

2)      Approach: Organisations need to have an open approach to the idea of diversity and inclusion. While most look at diversity from just gender perspective, inclusion based on elements such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical impairment, etc. are all necessary.

3)      Awareness: How can organisations create awareness regarding minorities among the majority? For instance, the majority should be made aware of the different kind of challenges that the minority face and learn to be more sensitive towards them. One of the most important aspects of inclusion is to build inclusion at the behavioural level.

4)      Access: What are the infrastructural, attitudinal and policies that needs to be made within the organisation? Minorities need to be provided with the equipment and access to being a part of diversity.

All these factors need to be taken charge by HR practitioners and put to place; individual should be placed at the centre and enable dialogue focused on inclusion. For this, one of the best measures is to build a sensitization platform where HR can raise awareness on inclusion. Each individual should be made accountable and should take responsibility to facilitate both diversity and inclusion.

Key Takeaways:

  • Diversity and inclusion are not the same; diversity is the objective and inclusion the end goal.
  • Diversity has many elements to it which come together to form a wheel.
  • Without awareness regarding these elements, people usually end up with unconscious bias.
  • Diversity and inclusion can be built only with sensitization and awareness.
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Topics: Diversity, Learning & Development

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