Article (June-2021)

Articles

D&I program should impact employees life positively

Mihir Gosalia

Designation : -  

Organization : -  Mumbai

01-Jun-2021

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1. Work place beliefs of Mitul are guided by her experiences, what she observes happening in the organisation in front of her eyes. That may not necessarily hold true at all times in all organisations. Each organisation is unique driven by its own sets of values, vision, mission and other guiding principles. And 7 years of work experience & 3 organisations is too little or early in stages of one's career to develop fixed & limiting work place beliefs, as to this is the only way things will work in all organisations throughout one's tenure. Organisational maturity takes time to develop & it can only happen when you work for a long time in an organisation and gain experience and not necessarily by switching jobs. Ultimately it's all up to the individual's thought process, the way he or she perceives an organisation. Mitul's beliefs are more on the theoretical side which is not surprising given that she was initially inclined towards academics however choose to experiment working in a corporate environment to gain some experience and exposure.

2. We know that diversity matters. In addition to being the right thing to strive for, having a diverse workforce helps companies acquire and retain the best talent, build employee engagement, increase innovation, and improve business performance. Yet corporate diversity still lags, especially at the top levels, which continue to be dominated by men. It's not that effort isn't being made, companies are investing in diversity programs. Research shows that 96-98% of large companies (above 1,000 employees) have such programs. And yet, despite this investment, Research survey results found that around three quarters of employees in underrepresented groups - women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ employees do not feel they've personally benefited from their companies' diversity and inclusion programs.

Members of majority groups continue to underestimate the obstacles - particularly the pervasive, day-to-day bias - that diverse employees face as also seen in the case study. Half of all diverse employees are of the opinion that they see bias as part of their day-to-day work experience. Half said that they don't believe their companies have the right mechanisms in place to ensure that major decisions (such as who receives promotions and stretch assignments) are free from bias. This fact can also be seen in the case study.

Policies that the companies thought were effective, but are undervalued by employees in the majority group. Since most corporate leaders fall in this latter category, this may mean that corporations are prioritizing the wrong initiatives.

For female employees, interventions are those that provide a viable path forward and give them the tools to balance career and family responsibilities. They want to see visible role models in the leadership team. And they want practical tools that would help them progress regardless of their family status: parental leave, appropriate health care coverage, and childcare assistance, such as backup or onsite childcare. Yet in spite of its relevance, this type of flexibility is only available in a third of workplaces.

The success of each of these initiatives requires leadership commitment, a tailored approach based on the unique needs of the organisation, and metrics and tracking for gauging progress.

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Superficial words and platitudes are insufficient. Employees see diversity programs in place but feel no effect. This is also seen in the case study wherein the current company of Mitul bagged Best Employer Award in D&I and there was a company event planned to celebrate the achievement which according to few of Mitul's colleagues was superficial.

 

4. The successful organisation has a culture of inclusion that capitalizes on the diverse backgrounds and characteristics, knowledge, skills, creativity, and motivation of its workforce and partners. The ways we think about and perceive others can also hamper progress. They present a subtle, yet important, factor that can contribute to biased decision-making which is exactly what is happening with Mitul. When individuals belong to groups that are seriously underrepresented in the organisational context, in the case study referred to as women - they may be subjected to stereotype-based evaluations or tokenism. These biased perceptions can then have negative consequences for both individual workers and the larger organisation, resulting in limited progress.

What can be done by HR to combat these biases? The top-ranked interventions included robust, well-crafted, and consistently followed antidiscrimination policies; effective training to mitigate biases and increase cultural competency; and removing bias from evaluation and promotion decisions. These should be priorities for any organisation that wants to improve diversity.

It is suggested that companies need not be stopped by the small numbers problem. In addition to increasing the representation of particular groups, companies can provide more visibility for a larger number and diverse set of underrepresented individuals - through opportunities for presentations internally as well as at conferences, for example. These efforts can counteract stereotyping and tokenism over time.

Organisations are complex and have different internal logics, cultures, and dynamics. It therefore does not make sense to take a one-size-fits-all policy and graft it on to different organisations. The organisational context matters. And, it should be accounted for when companies are deciding how to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. One suggested step is to get managers and other leaders involved from the start. Often, organisations have experts design programs that are then deployed to the managers. This strategy often lacks a reality check: Does this program fit into the way managers already work, or are managers now required to add something into their already complex days? Involving managers in the design process can increase buy-in and smooth implementation, making interventions more sustainable and long-lasting.

As the common goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion become even more widespread, companies have the daunting task of figuring out what works. These strategies offer an evidence-based place to start. From counting, collecting, and comparing to accounting for complex organisational contexts, progress is possible. Leaders must build a clear case for change and set concrete goals, prioritized in concert with their diverse employees.

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Mihir Gosalia, Pune