Organizations across the spectrum have faced their own set of challenges in the space of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Even companies like Google, Facebook and now Uber of the world, otherwise considered to be the best companies to work for, have seen a lower representation of women and/or minority communities. But hold on, there’s a silver lining to it. Their representation is getting better for lot of companies year on year, which means there is some serious work happening in this area.
One of the underlying reasons to a skewed gender ratio in organizations is that leaders in most organizations have a background of technical education and prefer hiring with similar backgrounds. This reduces the probability of having women leaders at the top, as statistically speaking, not many women opt for scientific and technological education. It gets further reflected in the low ratio of women employees at the lower as well as the middle level.
Having said that, there are no studies that suggest leaders from a technical background perform better than non-technical background. Therefore, making it a classic case of a “lack of inclusive mindset”, which has no rationale.
I have been talking to a few HR leaders who have achieved significant success in this area. I have also seen some positive results in my own organization with respect to diversity. Based on my personal experience and the interactions I’ve had, I have penned-down some common practices that have helped organizations in achieving their diversity goals.
- Stay true to your Culture. Stay focused on Culture, Mission and Values during selection and you won’t lose out on a good yet diverse candidate. Take away the biasness and build objectivity in hiring
- Build on internal references and encourage members to recommend for new positions and you will see how it directly improves the diversity in the workplace
- Develop ownership among leaders and middle managers in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace and you will see the whole organization inching towards becoming a more inclusive workplace
- Celebrate returning of women employees after coming from a break and create a workplace that encourages their unconditional welcome
- Build a flexible work arrangement leading from the top. You can’t expect all the leaders and managers always staying late for work but asking their respective team members to leave early for family obligations. Need to lead by example in building work life balance.
- Acknowledge diversity as a game changer in today’s world to succeed in this highly disruptive and dynamic technology landscape. The fact is that diversity is the engine of innovation and no company can afford to miss it.
- Create inspiring role models and share their stories both internally and externally. Let people ask them about their journey and experiences, and make them your D&I ambassador.
- Create community groups or councils. Empower them to represent the community concerns and promote them to recommend programs for acquiring talent from their communities.
Let’s accept the reality. Building a diverse organization is a daunting task. The complexity involved in bringing diverse people and building an inclusive workplace requires much more conscious effort and of course, an unwavering leadership commitment.
I am interested in other ideas that would help in building a more diverse and inclusive workplace. I would be more than happy to know your thoughts.
About Sachin Khurana
Sachin Khurana has over 10 years of experience and has worked with organizations like Lodha Group, TCS e-Serve International Ltd., Value One & Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. Sachin holds a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Human Resources and Organisational Development from Delhi School of Economics.