This article first appeared in the hospitality journal, the Hospitality Biz, January 2020 edition. Reproducing the article here with due credits to the magazine.
I have been asked to write on issues concerning women and their expectations at their workplaces. Everyone knows the real issues that still exist at many work places – that of inequality, of women not considered for positions in top management, disparities in their pay structures or lack of safe working environment. Since a career woman handles multiple roles, she needs a good support system to manage each role. When she doesn’t receive it, she often opts out of a career and the organization loses a promising professional. When we know the real issues we need to tackle them at the grass root levels. It’s about bringing change in mindsets and cultures. I feel it can start with embracing diversity and inclusion at workplaces which in turn will lead to such concerns being dealt with on their own; bringing benefits to all – organisations as well as individuals!
Workplace diversity and inclusion are becoming a priority as companies continue to invest in their D&I programs. If work places are able to implement at least a few of the practices benchmarked by the best; they can achieve one of the biggest competitive advantages in today’s times.
Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. It can be summed as empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education and nationality. Diversity allows for the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. Each individual brings with him or her diverse sets of perspectives, work and life experiences as well as religious and cultural differences. The power of diversity can only be unleashed and its benefits reaped when we recognise these differences and learn to value people irrespective of their backgrounds.
Inclusion is a collaborative, supportive, and respectful environment that increases the participation and contribution of all employees. It is an organisational effort in which different groups or individuals having diverse backgrounds are culturally and socially welcomed, accepted and treated with equality. Thus inclusion is a sense of belonging; people feel a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that they can put in their best at work. Inclusion often means a shift in an organisation’s mindset and culture. When people feel valued, they work with their full potential and feel connected with the organisation’s mission. This boosts employee morale creating higher motivation among them.
Need for Diversity and Inclusion at Workplaces
The onset of globalisation has led to a demographic shift, with increased mobility in workers and professionals travelling to different parts of the world for career progression. There is a constant need for talented and skilled workforce resulting in diversity becoming a key driver in economic growth across the world. With diverse workforce; inclusion is needed for social harmony at work places. Organisations in turn have the responsibility to allocate the required resources and training for effective implementation of D&I.
Research conducted by Deloitte in 2018; points out that diversity is perceived differently by different generations. Millennials view workplace diversity as the combining of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, and they believe taking advantage of these differences is what leads to innovation. Gen Xers and Boomers on the other hand view workplace diversity as equal and fair representation; regardless of demographics without necessarily considering diversity’s relationship with business results.
Openness to diversity gives wider access to the best talent available and Inclusion allows engaging it constructively.
Diversity and inclusion best practices
Diversity and Inclusion, has been one of the hottest topics of 2019. Organisations that embrace diversity and inclusion in their businesses outperform their peers. Professor Quinetta Roberson, USA; based on a survey of HR executives highlighted D&I best practices, some of them are:
It’s imperative that we make this cultural- shift within our organisations so that issues related to diversity will be used constructively. We don’t have to treat women differently but gender equity needs to be created. Once we understand that part of our roles workplaces will be fair to all; men and women.