Human Resource Outsourcing

Talking or Taking steps - Choice is yours!

Several leading companies are "talking and taking" steps to increase diversity and inclusion. However, when you observe the numbers, progress in most sectors remains questionable. So, the natural question is - What’s working and what's not?

I was recently reading a research report by Forbes Insights, to gain a better understanding of the role that diversity and inclusion play in companies around the globe. They had conducted a comprehensive survey of more than 300 senior executives who were involved in developing, implementing, or managing strategies or programmes related to diversity and inclusion for their companies’ workforce. The interesting aspect was that the companies that participated in the survey had revenues of at least $500 million and went up to more than $20 billion. Some key findings were:

  1. A diverse and inclusive workforce is necessary to drive innovation, foster creativity, and guide business strategies as diverse voices lead to new ideas and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
  2. The pandemic has added to the fight for the right talent and a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial for companies that want to attract and retain top talent.
  3. The organisation’s diversity goals and priorities won’t change significantly over the next three years which on average are 43% retention and development of talent, 35% ensuring diversity in the workplace in general, 29% developing a robust pipeline of diverse talent and 28% managing cross-generational issues.
  4. Responsibility for the success of the company’s diversity/inclusion efforts lies with senior management.
Taking this ahead is the McKinsey research (2018) that shows that greater diversity in the workforce results in profitability and significant value creation. In fact, McKinsey found a statistically significant correlation between diverse leadership and better financial performance. According to McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial/ethnic and gender diversity are 35% and 15% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.

My question is if the data proves that diversity and inclusion are impacting the bottom line positively, attracting the right talent, improving customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and profitability, why does the gap still exist? Look around and only the BFSI industry boasts of Leaders who are women. Why?

I believe that we live in a deeply connected and global world.

As a responsible organisation and individuals, our focus must be on creating a sustainable world where our next generations can thrive. This is only possible when we have deeper learning and appreciation of the diverse demography that represents our global communities. I have had the opportunity to work with employers who take pride in being an equal opportunity employer and to send a message that every employee counts in making it that way. From a leadership standpoint, while in Infosys BPM we have 17% of our leadership as women, we believe that we must seize every opportunity and achieve resilience and elevate the impact of every Manager (I don't want to say women Manager because we don't say women pilot) to leverage their unique talents to navigate the business.

In fact, with no offence to celebrating one day of the year as "Diversity Day", as a message that we care is good. However, the true taste of the pudding will be when we continue to make our people truly feel that we care on a day-to-day basis in the normal employee life cycle. Providing diverse sets of employees with opportunities to learn, be coached, be mentored and trained is what every institution and corporate is responsible for.

My learnings or wish list:

  1. A diverse workforce can differentiate them from their competitors and can help capture new clients.
  2. Diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation, therefore you need to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.
  3. Identify the progressive organisations you want to benchmark with and set goals, collect data, and examine change over time.
  4. Organisations are complex and have different complex cultures and dynamics. Re-orient and re-induct them as diversity and inclusion are not an initiative owned exclusively by HR.
  5. Visualize diversity and inclusion as a journey of transformation and not just a programme.
Remember what makes the world interesting is our differences not our similarities. So, celebrate it with pride!

This article was first published by The Economics Times.

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