It’s time for organisations to look at diversity, equity, and inclusion from a fresh lens
While organisations are built by its people—they emerge stronger when people are heard, included and empowered. As employees across the world braved the pandemic over the last two years—the focus on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) strengthened like never before. Such extraordinary times led many organizations to reflect on their DEI values and reaffirm their commitment towards bringing them to life.
In fact, every day serves as a new opportunity to advance inclusion in the workplace. A place where each individual is respected, acceptance is the norm, where collaboration is the core and opportunities are for everyone. While values remain timeless—what transforms is the approach. As organisations embrace a new normal, there are several steps that can enable leaders to build a more inclusive environment, deeper sense of belonging and a more empowered workforce.
Nurturing diversity via recruiting and upskilling
It’s no secret—the more diverse an organisation, the stronger it emerges. And so, recruitment becomes the first and most crucial step to build a diverse workforce and bring together people from varied backgrounds, skillsets, and experiences. It is imperative for organizations to develop an intentional strategy to onboard diverse talents into their workforce. A case in point: Walmart Global Tech India runs their ReSpark Program which motivates talented women on a career break to pursue their passion in technology and return to the workforce with confidence.
Training hiring managers to hone their interviewing skills, overcome biases, and integrate diverse talents in an inclusive manner is essential to promote DE&I from the word go. Upskilling the existing workforce is also invaluable for building a culture of collaboration and inclusion.
The power of mentorship
The power of mentorship is known to all. Research tells us that, mentoring is especially crucial while trying to retain diverse talents. Another study found that women and minorities were more likely to say that mentoring was an important part of their career. To that end, a combination of formal and informal mentorship programs is absolutely essential to help employees from diverse backgrounds realize their potential, accelerate growth and emerge as role models for generations to come.
Workplace flexibility to support diversity
A diverse workforce will have diverse needs. It is important to recognize individual needs and empower people with flexibility to bring their best self to work. Moreover, the pandemic irreversibly changed lives for several employees across the world. A hybrid model with flexible work hours, support such as healthcare coverage, childcare support, flexible leave programs, and sabbaticals can enable employees to strike the right work-life balance and thrive at work.
Leading with empathy—in action
According to research—empathy is the most important leadership skill in recent times. While empathy has always been critical, it’s earned a new meaning in a post-pandemic world. Active listening forums or formal/informal pulse checks are a few mechanisms that can help leaders build a culture of empathy and compassion. Manager enablement workshops can help managers lead with empathy and identify team members who may need unique support and care. However, simply lending an ear isn’t enough; empathy followed by action is what truly counts while helping employees navigate work and life.
A culture of well-being fosters diversity and inclusion
Inclusion and well-being are two sides of the same coin. A 2021 survey by Deloitte confirmed that DE&I and employee mental health and well-being are top priorities for CEOs in 2021. DEI trainings and micro-learning help foster a positive, inclusive environment that promotes well-being, trust, and instils confidence in employees. Needless to say, the pandemic affected well-being for most people across the world. Holistic resources to support mental, social, physical, and financial well-being must be accessible to all employees in every organization.
The world has changed irrevocably, and it’s time for organisations to look at diversity, equity, and inclusion from a fresh lens to address challenges of today and needs of tomorrow. While a lot hinges on leaders, the responsibility lies with every employee to celebrate diversity, promote inclusion, and create a sense of belonging at the workplace.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan