From the PM to Head honchos, everyone is talking about the importance of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at the workplace. The benefits of having a work culture which respects and accommodates groups that are diverse in nature are well-known, especially among HR practitioners who have taken to drive this agenda like fish to water. There is loads of buzz and a few misconceptions as well. Here’s how you can make sense of the noise:
#1. We have a woman director on our Board and we have a Prevention of Sexual Harassment policy in place. These are signs that we respect gender diversity at work!
You’re right. These are signs that give out the right signals. However, these are legal requirements at the end of the day, SEBI mandates having a woman director and the law requires certain policies to be in place. Is this enough? Not really. Be innovative and make a customized intervention that will make your employees feel truly understood. How? Start by understanding them at a level that explains what respect means to them.
Look at how you can retain women in your organization once they begin their journey of motherhood. Don’t neglect the men when you introduce flexi-hours policies or transportation back home after a late night shift. After all, their priorities are equally important.
Also, look beyond the two genders. Gender identity and sexual orientation is another strand of diversity that often gets neglected. Based on your organization, take a stance and work around it.
#2. We have ramps in office. This makes it accessible for persons with disabilities as well. There! Done!
Having a ramp is a solution to a physical/architectural barrier. The barrier that should be tackled with equal rigour is a psychological one.
Persons with disabilities have a different set of needs. Being aware about it and making those changes sensitively is what needs to be looked at. Be it introducing braille menus in the canteen or even training employees on communicating in sign language, just go for it!
#3. Our organization has a PAN India presence. We celebrate as many diverse festivals as possible in office and have an annual Traditional Day as well.
Celebrations in office are great but is it a sustainable approach to take while communicating the importance of cultural/social diversity? Not really.
How aware are your employees about the cultures in the country? With a PAN India presence, are they equipped to understand the mind-set of a customer belonging to a different state?
You could even start with making sure all your policies and internal communication campaigns are vernacular language friendly.
#4. Many of our senior employees do work with our new joinees at the workplace for certain projects.
That’s great! When different generations at the workplace work together, a lot of key learning/s get exchanged. However, you need to dig a little deeper to see how this momentum can be sustained.
Take inspiration from ‘The Intern’ where Robert De Niro applies to a senior citizen intern program at an e-commerce start-up! Or introduce structured sessions where the new joinees pass on their knowledge to the seniors as well. Remember, learning has to be both ways!
All of this sounds easier said than done. However, valuing diversity is just the first step in this journey. Inclusion is the next big step and that is the one you should be taking right now.