Diversity And Inclusion – Do They Matter?
What do you see when you look at your workforce? Do you see people from varied races, ethnicities and religious affiliations? Do you see a balanced mix of gender and generation? If not then perhaps your organization is suffering from an unconscious bias towards diversity. With advances in technology and communication, along with impact of emerging markets and globalization, it is important that organizations understand the importance of having a diverse workforce.
Having a diverse workforce gives an organization a competitive advantage. It helps them to tap into the unique experiences along with diverse perspectives, backgrounds and cultures. These can be leveraged to promote innovation and drive growth through unique business solutions. But just having a diverse workforce is not sufficient. Most organizations that attempt to create a diverse workforce stop just at that. Organizations have to make this ‘diversity’ work for them. Else it’s like having all the right ingredients in the kitchen to make a pizza, but without the inclination to make one.
To make diversity unveil its magic you need what is called ‘inclusivity’. People from diverse backgrounds in a workforce need to collaborate and work together as a team. Their voices, opinions and viewpoints should be valued and given due consideration. Organizations will have to do away with any biases against underrepresented groups, which means providing equal opportunities to make key decisions or climb up the corporate ladder.
This might be easier said than done. Not only is ‘inclusivity’ difficult to attempt, but it also takes tremendous effort, thought and execution. Additionally, it is generally not a sole responsibility of the HR department. The onus also belongs on the managers and employees. Managers will have to lead by example. Implementing mentoring and coaching programmes for the underrepresented groups can foster the feeling of belonging and security. Keeping communication channels open will help employees from diverse backgrounds to discuss sensitive issue freely. Employees will also have to take the initiative to break the ice and provide suggestions and ways to improve workforce participation.
Diversity and inclusion are two sides of the same coin. Organizations cannot have one without the other. Organizations that believe they will have to sacrifice quality to meet quota for diversity will never be able to fully leverage the potential of a diverse workforce. But there are some organizations that are moving slowly but steadily towards diversity and inclusion in their workplace. It is an ongoing process and organizations will have to strive for diversity and inclusion to be reflected in their culture, practices and relationships.