In order for businesses and governments to remain relevant and competitive in today’s marketplace, it is necessary to adopt a global mindset. There have been numerous discussions, deliberations and debates that outline the importance of creating a more cross-cultural, inclusive and diverse work force. Most of these discussions have led to the conclusion that diversity and inclusion at workplace reap immense benefits including greater customer satisfaction, better market position, an enhanced ability to reach strategic goals and a stronger bottom line. I couldn’t agree more.
India being a country of many languages, casts and ethnicities makes for a very complex yet a very compelling landscape for understanding the role of diversity and inclusion.
In the last few years, there has been a conscious effort from the Government as well as the India Inc to promote diversity at workplace. There have been some remarkable developments such as India’s market regulator mandating listed companies to have at least one woman director on their boards, government extending the maternity leave to six months, passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill and leading corporations promoting LGBT rights at workplace. However, we still have a significant ground to cover.
As a thriving economy with the world’s second largest population and an emerging global leader, India must embrace the virtue of diversity and inclusion at workplace to realize its full potential.
What can companies do
While the regulators and the government do their bit, the responsibility of driving diversity and inclusion on the ground largely lies with the organizations. Organization must proactively hold internal events and round tables to discuss various issues and eliminate unconscious bias. Conducting customized training/workshop to sensitize recruiters and managers towards LGBT and people with disability can go a long way in ensuring that such people are seamlessly integrated in our work life. It must also be imperative for all offices to be 100% disability friendly. In addition to these, offering flexible working hours for new mothers and conducting hiring drives with a special focus on recruiting women can hugely contribute towards fostering gender diversity at workplace.
Many a times, we also tend to use diversity and inclusiveness as interchangeable terms. There is however as stark difference between the two. As noted diversity advocate Vern? Myers puts it, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Therefore, while organization must be proactive in creating a culture which is conducive for a gender diverse and cross cultural work force, they must also make sure that these people are not only recruited but also counted and recognized for their efforts in growing the company
Need of the hour
The best leaders I’ve worked for demonstrate empathy for their staff and for their customers. They listen and hear what people have to say and work with their teams to grow them and develop the kinds of soft and hard skills necessary to grow. But most of all, these leaders recognize the value of a diverse workforce and strive to build and grow those sorts of teams. To build successful businesses, we must let diversity and inclusion evolve from an important discussion, to a way of life and business in India.
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