Of late, we come across many programs & forums to enhance Gender Diversity, effort to build women leadership pipeline, providing job opportunities for differently abled people , hiring people with good mix of regions/geographies etc. What’s really driving these initiatives… They were never heard off or given importance a decade back. Is it just a fad – Because one company started , others would like to copy & implement to look good in the market for its best practices Or is it really a need ?
While these programs surely yield brownie points to the organizations, but that’s not the only reason. Never before was it so critical to connect with the customers & maximize the available resources to support the strong economic growth & geographically dispersed business. It is this business interest which is making this initiative go viral. Now focus has been to make the most of the energy from every resource possible. Optimization is the key. Hence, tapping the Talent pool across all segments is imperative.
In true sense, diversity means appreciating the differences of age, gender, religion, culture, ethnicity, colour, language, nationality, education etc. On the other hand Inclusion means making the person valued, heard & respected. In short, diversity is about appreciating the variety or differences, wherein inclusion means leveraging these differences & making all work together.
The recent study by Mercer done for Asia Pacific on the same topic reveals that most of the companies had diversity strategy in place. But three quarters of those surveyed listed gender as the main focus of their diversity efforts, while the others on the card included flexi work, work life balance etc which are again related to gender balance. A deep dive into this research showed that the demographic trends where impacting this initiatives. For Instance Matrix organizations are becoming common across all sector which results in multi generational, multi cultural teams working together. Hence these initiatives become very important to keep all work together & stay focused to achieve the common goals.
McKinsey explains this really well in its policy. Accordingly to them, people are THE most central part of the business & most of the time is spent on addressing the 3 fundamental questions – How teams work, how to make them better & what makes them a great team. For them it is truly about who we are & what we respect . Their recipe of successful team includes lot of different people, perspectives, backgrounds & ideas. They have gender diversity, diverse religion, differently abled people , straight & gay, single & married with biological kids, adopted kids & foster kids . They have nano technologists to novelists to mathematicians…. With varied qualification. They find strength in the difference and this attitude has helped them to grow leaps & bounds.
This is very progressive thought & in true sense empowering people.
Similarly at McDonalds which is a famous fast food joint, this is part of the culture from a crew room to the board room. They have approx. 25% of women/ minority in women leadership role, Over 5 billion diverse vendor spend & 45% women/ minority franchises.
At Microsoft, to help foster this they have built a rich communities –Employee Resource group & employee networks. These groups help employees provide career development, support, networking opportunities, mentoring, community participation, product input , cultural awareness etc.
While some companies are inward looking , some of them having taken a step ahead to engage with external stakeholders. At Google, they have taken a unique step to engage Suppliers Diversity Program. This was designed to connect with minority, women, veteran & LGBT owned small business opportunities within Google while helping them grow on web. This program was open for all those who are based at US, have an annual revenue of less than or equal to $15 Million & has less than or equal to 50 employees.
For many organizations it has become part of culture & ingrained in its core values. This enables people to collaborate and compete in the marketplace more effectively to grow stronger and smarter.
Thus to conclude in the words of John Bryant, CEO & Chairman of Kelloggs – Diversity & Inclusions are not add-ons, extras or “nice to haves” . They are central to who we are & what we do. It helps in sharing richer, broader ideas that can lead to breakthrough innovations !!!
Hence, its not about erasing the differences but shifting the mindset. Its about not limiting to boundaries. Its about taking widest possible view to welcome all forms of differences !!!
Ms.Prakrithi Shetty works for GenPact India as Associate Vice President – HR. She was formerly Head of Global Learning Services at Schneider Electric. Has worked extensively on ideating and implementation various initiatives of the employee life cycle that includes Talent Acquisition, Talent Engagement and Retention Management, Career Planning and People development, Compensation & Benefits strategy and management, Performance Management, HR Analytics and driving HR effectiveness with an expertise in Business Partnering and Project Management. Has overall experience in HR with exposure in handling multiple business verticals that includes Corporate HR, R & D, Global Supply Chain/ Manufacturing , Sales & Marketing & Support functions.