Breaking Down Barriers: Diversity and Inclusion in Organizations
“Diversity is about Representation and Inclusion is about Environment.” Diversity and Inclusion has many associated benefits for organizations, in the long-run ranging from improved employee engagement to greater stakeholder satisfaction. Promoting diversity and inclusion within an organization is an important choice to make and it requires high level of commitment to enable and sustain diversity and inclusion practices.
In recent times there has been a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion for the success of organizations. Greater sensitivity towards underrepresented groups, such as people of colour, women, persons with disability, and LGBTQAI+ is one of the reasons for an increase in the willingness to accommodate diverse groups in the workforce. On the other hand, diversity and inclusion benefits like innovativeness, talent retention, contribution to ESG goals, etc. have pushed organizations to take building inclusive workplaces seriously.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity refers to the presence of heterogeneous demographic groups within an organization, such as people from different races, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Inclusion, on the other hand, refers to the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with these diverse groups of people in a way that promotes full participation and a sense of belonging for all. So, while diversity is about representation and ensuring that all people have an opportunity to join the workplace, inclusion is about creating an enabling environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and able to fully contribute to the organization’s goals.
Why is Diversity and Inclusion important to organizations?
Studies have shown that diverse and inclusive organizations are more sustainable and successful in the long run in-terms of market value, revenues and profitability. Additionally, there are many immediate benefits as well, such as:
- Innovativeness: A diverse workforce can bring a range of different perspectives, experiences and ideas to the table. This can lead to more productive problem-solving and innovative solutions.
- Employee Engagement: Inclusion contributes to a more positive and respectful work environment, where all employees feel valued. It can thus boost engagement and performance.
- Talent Retention: While efforts to improve diversity in the workforce will attract talent from across, inclusive environments will help in retaining talent by creating a sense of belonging.
- Customer/Beneficiary Satisfaction: Diverse workforce can help organizations better understand and operate in different markets or communities. This has benefits like altering products or services to suit local needs and attracting good investments.
How to Begin?
To promote Diversity and Inclusion in any organization, the first step is alignment at the top level. Once that is there, starting with a diversity & inclusion audit can help organizations to identify areas where they are lacking and can provide a baseline for measuring progress.
This audit can be followed by a clear Diversity and Inclusion plan, defining the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion within and outside the organization and communicating it to employees. employees should be sensitized and trained to better understand the diversity and inclusion plans of the organization.
Further to encourage open and honest communication within the organization a support employee group can be formed. During the initial phase, all employees may not be fully aligned or committed to diversity in the workplace. A support employee group can play a critical role by having open discussions, understating employee concerns, and addressing them.
Once an enabling environment is created organization should promote diversity in hiring.
And last but not least, it is important to keep track of progress so as to improve.
Overall, diversity and inclusion can lead to a more successful and competitive organization, but promoting this within organization especially in case of persons with disability and LGBTQAI+ requires extra efforts for the following reasons:
IN CASE OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES:
Providing Accessible Infra & Technology: People with disabilities may face additional barriers that can prevent them from fully participating and feeling included within an organization. It is necessary to provide support such as accessible infra & assistive technology to ensure that they are able to fully participate.
Sensitizing of Other Employees: People with disabilities may be underrepresented within organizations, and there may be stereotypes and biases about them that can limit their opportunities within the organization. Hence, various employee sensitization activities including sign language training can be planned to enable seamless co-ordination with persons with disabilities.
Conducting Appropriate Job Mapping: Based on the type of disability, proper job mapping within organization will help to identify the appropriate job roles for persons with disabilities. This will help them to add value and excel in their jobs.
IN CASE OF LGBTQAI+
Developing Policies and Practices that are inclusive of LGBTQAI+ employees: This is super critical and can include things like having non-discrimination policies, offering benefits for same-sex partners (as per the country’s law), proper infra like restrooms, and friendly travel and stay policies.
Organise Sensitization Workshops for Employees: These workshops can help to raise awareness and understanding of LGBTQAI+ community and their challenges and can help to create a more inclusive environment.
Employee Resource Groups: Employee resource groups can provide a supportive community for LGBTQAI+ individuals and can help in raising awareness within the organization. All employees initially may not be very appreciative or comfortable in getting along with this group; however, an employee resource group can play a critical role in bridging this gap and can play a critical role in helping other employees to get along with LGBTQAI+ staff.
Promoting diversity and inclusion within an organization is an important choice to make. And it is not going to be an easy to implement choice mainly because it will require a high level of commitment to the cause, effective change management, and also resources. But once successfully implemented, in the long run, it will make the organization strong in-terms of the talent pool, innovativeness, customer engagement, and sustainability.
*This blog has been written using ChatGPT3.
Pranav Kumar Choudhary | COO
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