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Creating Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces

It is imperative to have a five-year roadmap for these programmes to show desired results.

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An awakening of sorts is now visible within India Inc. wherein organizations have embraced diversity and inclusion (D&I) wholeheartedly and have begun to appreciate its potential as a vehicle of cultural change, leveraging on untapped talent pools, enabling engagement and more importantly embracing a sense of oneness that celebrates our demographic dividend.

Various research studies globally have proven that workplaces that are diverse and inclusive harness productivity and performance in various ways. According to a recent D&I benchmarking survey conducted in 2019 across 300+ companies in India, 72% of employers said it drove better business results while 68% said it helped them in hiring and retaining top female professionals while 67% said that it positioned themselves as employers-of-choice for women. While that seems to have been a reason for cheer, there is tremendous scope for improvement since the survey also mentioned that gender gaps existed at various levels of the succession pipeline with the largest vacuum existing at the leadership level.

Corporates that have embraced D&I have invested time and effort in building a sustainable ecosystem that makes appreciating diversity and practicing inclusion a part of their work culture. Creating an organization that truly believes and practices D&I is possible through clear objectives that are achieved through actual implementation and should be measured from time to time for real impact. Few pillars to form this structure are millennials engagement, acceptance of persons with disability, generational diversity, women in leadership roles, policies that are designed to enable and empower as well as encouraging inclusion of the LGBTQI community in the workforce. 

The recent disruption that has taken place across industry circles calls for a revisit to the existing policies and addition of things such as POSH trainings, strict code of conduct, programs for attracting and retaining millennials along with diversity workshops as well as D&I becoming a part of the CEO’s strategic imperatives where it makes a mention across the leadership hierarchy’s goal sheets. Women can be supported through second career programs, work from home or reduced work hour’s option post child-birth and child care facilities. Overall, driving health and wellness initiatives, providing external coaching to identified groups and putting together an effective framework of managing multiple generations at work can boost the D&I endeavour. It has to be supported by a business context in the overall plan and these programmes should be institutionalised as integrated processes and business imperatives that becomes a core value which will inevitably help the brand to emerge as an employer of choice. 

It is equally important to review and measure the impact of these efforts on a regular basis. Creating a complete D&I scorecard and benchmarking against industry wide best practices is highly recommended. Furthermore, enhancing communication and disseminating inspiring stories on gender diversity across the organisation will certain celebrate successes and create a higher level of ownership.    

As an organization committed to building diverse and inclusive workplace and given the complexities in operations, it is imperative to take initiatives that makes the workplace attractive for millennials, provide  equal opportunity to women as well as persons with disabilities and shatter the stereotypes around LGBTQI workforce. These action-oriented initiatives can range from gender sensitization, fast tracked career opportunities for the development of hi-potential women, focused policies to retain women employees and a wing that supports LGBTQI employees. It is imperative to have a five-year roadmap for these programmes to show desired results.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Mehernosh Mehta

The author is Vice President and Head - Human Resources, Mahindra Logistics.

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