Diversity and inclusion are often confused with meeting hiring numbers, providing infrastructure support, creating policies and making the right noises. Such tokenism can’t go far in today’s world with increased awareness and activism shaping how organizations rethink their strategies and approaches.
After listening through the proceeding at the recently concluded 2017 NASSCOM Diversity & Inclusion Summit it became evident that apart from mindsets needing to change we must revisit how we engage each other as human beings. Be it machine learning, analytics, workplace environment or artificial intelligence we still are about interacting with humans. Everyone has a mission in life and all want to do well. When we enable human potential the world becomes an inclusive place.
Here are a few perspectives that can help us make diversity and inclusion count individually and as organizations.
– Recognizing people who break stereotypes and having the courage to put them in positions of power and influence means you really care about diversity and inclusion. At the forum, there were people from the junior ranks of the organization who were entrusted with responsibilities far greater and different than they probably expected. That never let them feel overwhelmed or believe they couldn’t deliver outstanding outcomes.
– When others become an ‘ally’ and get involved it is easier for specific individuals who consider themselves marginalized to feel welcomed. See this wonderful ad which shows how when a community learned sign language to make their new resident feel welcomed it created positive energy.
– What we communicate and demonstrate through our actions reflects or intent and focus. When the founder of a business processing center with only people with disabilities shared how her team learned sign language to engage the team it meant you make a difference if you truly care. She didn’t have the infrastructure to support before she began but figured it along the way. The commitment to just go ahead knowing what she did was right helped her through the journey.
– In our age of one-upmanship, it is heartening to see that organizations are looking beyond just their gains and providing for the common good. When an organization that created a mobile app for integrating women employees back into the workplace decided to share their expertise and assets it indicated a change that can go a long way.
– Diversity and inclusion aren’t a seasonal practice or an attempt to gain brownie points with headquarters. Nor is it the ‘flavor of the month’. Learning from best practices and using insights to change how your organization views the world is truly needed. Continuing to do what is right for your employees and the communities over the years is what makes your effort bear fruit. One organization was reported to have a personalized evacuation plan for every disabled person.
– Indicating your support regularly and visibly is what helps others know you believe strongly in what you claim. Investing in sensitizing other ‘able bodied’ employees even though it is a big amount of ‘productive’ time and effort is what counts.
When organizations make attempts to appreciate differences and know that there is a cost of ‘not doing anything’ or get into the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mode they are facing an uphill task on their diversity and inclusion agenda. It is when taking a stand, staying committed and genuinely acting even when the world isn’t supportive can organizations break out of their own shackles.