The gradual addition of alphabets and attributes reflects the evolution of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Today, DEI& B is a manifestation of the employee desire for better representation of individual voices and needs at the workplace. However, this does not alter the fact that DEI & B is often reduced to being just a number’s game or a mere branding opportunity.
The reason being – a mismatch between the thought, words, and actions among corporates.
Feedback Insights invited industry stalwarts for a virtual discourse – Huddle 2022 – to help dissect the contrasting noise and silence over DEI & B in corporate India. Mentioned below are some of the key identifiers drawn from the voice of our expert panelists.
Setting Precedence in a Metric Driven World
In a metrics-driven world, the narrative around DEI & B often gets distorted inadvertently. More often than not, the statement “If you engage in DEI & B, you will reap a multitude of benefits” simply turns into a sales pitch. The way forward for enterprises is to have a clear structure regarding the ‘What, Why, and How’ of DEI & B practices. Knowing this will help synchronize the upper-level intent with ground-level actions. However, organizations do not operate in isolation.
Societal prejudice and stereotypical bias inevitably find their way into the work culture. That being said, it is important to remember that change only comes from a holistic and sensitized perspective. And organizations need to take the lead here. This is also a firm foot forward in making the DEI&B mandate fundamental to its vision and not just a tick on metrics to be measured.
Walking the Talk, The Leadership Mindset
“Look at ways leadership commitment can be observed. Seen, Heard, Felt, all the senses need to be engaged to establish that leaders are committed to DEI & B. Why? Because leaders are the spokesperson of every organization.” Geetha Kanan, Founder and CEO, Wequity, puts the leadership involvement succinctly.
The signaling from leadership, via their action and communication, plays a key role in setting the tone for the entire workforce. Regarding DEI & B, leading by self-initiated actions helps motivate the employees to move beyond the confines of ‘What’s in it for me.’ A word of caution; leaders cannot afford to be DEI & B evangelists at work and come up empty in their personal life.
Change Is an Outlook
There is no dearth of instances where employees have asserted themselves and created an equal, diverse and inclusive environment. Change need not trickle down from the top every time. The thunder can rise on the ground and take the entire organization in its throes. All it takes is a resolution to not just embrace but lead the change.
Diversity – Gender, Generation and Beyond
Previously, the term ‘diversity’ triggered an image of women’s representation in male-dominated workplaces. But today, the meaning has evolved beyond the realm of gender. Company policies must include differently-abled, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented groups as equals. The increased acceptance of generational diversity and cognitive inclusion at workplaces reflects a changing societal outlook.
Break Free and Build Anew
With time, frameworks and equations will increasingly help quantify the impact of DEI & B in a holistic manner. And, to achieve that in a fast-evolving workspace amidst the pandemic-induced changes, one needs to break the existing moulds. Pankaj Rai, Group Chief Data Analytics Officer, Aditya Birla Group hits the nail with his statement, “Empower your team to discover the questions. Find the answers. Connect with the purpose. Define the metrics and go get it.”
The modern workplace and the changing workforce priorities have accelerated the acceptance of DEI & B as an essential norm all around. Employees prefer an environment that empowers them to think and express themselves worry-free. Similarly, corporate leaders increasingly emphasize on structures that make employees feel part of the organization’s journey. As Ganesh Jayaraman, Head, Advisory Services, Feedback Insights, aptly summarised, “DEI & B is not merely a process or people transformation. It is a mindset transformation. The leaders need to understand the ‘why’ behind it. And metrics display a picture of ‘where were you’ and ‘where are you now.'”