Diversity and inclusion

Diversity! Diversity! Diversity!… Partnering a myriad of multinationals, large regional players across the Middle East and Africa region provides for very interesting insights and questions that should be asked and answered.

…Do we realise the impact of NOT seeding diversity of thought and perspective in our building blocks?

…Do we realise the impact of NOT building diversity of race, nationality and religious/social groups?

I think a business case should be made about why Diversity in all its hues is important for each and every organization. Imperative that each person in the organization understands the impact of NOT being diverse and inclusive. There is a business impact most definitely. We see it around us!… Needless to say, the governments are pushing for it to build national talent pools hence tightening the regulatory framework in most countries we work.

Let me give you an example …many times hiring decisions have been based on poaching from a respected competitor space…justified by saying that the employee will add value and hit the ground running…agreed if you hire only one or two at the most!… But when a precedent is set up that the majority of the hiring is from the specific competitor then you have built a sub culture, diluted your own and inclusion has certainly hit a new low. This costs the business in the long run when we are comfortable with the “sameness” of our reporting lines and not allowing different perspectives to play out.

A disrupted market requires teams who bring in different perspectives built on differing backgrounds, Academics, organizations, genders, nationality and religion. Many of our clients have built expansive programs for being inclusive, but the measures get masked by other cultural determinants. Many of our clients have built KPIs around diversity – specially gender and Nationality…but the numbers are far from being representative of the world outside despite over a decade of chasing these numbers… Sound familiar? As with any long term investment, patience is needed, perseverance to make things happen and meticulously looking at each and every business process, activities, ways of working, the how-to’s and reset cultural tenets by asking the all important question “what difference does the difference really make”?

“We are at our best when we actively seek diversity and inclusion”. This is not just some bromide statement espoused by a random person to gain brownie points but a claim made by Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s newest CEO who is shaking the trees at the decade’s old organisation. More importantly, this sentiment is echoed by CEO’s and leaders worldwide and in increasing numbers. Look at the 2017 diversity and inclusion research conducted by Deloitte- 69% of executives rated it as an important issue. Companies have recognised the fact that diversity and inclusion impacts not only brand but also performance.

Let’s go back to basics. What is meant by diversity and inclusion? It starts with bringing together individuals of different race, creed and backgrounds. But it’s not enough to simply bring them together, every individual in the group needs to be empowered and treated with equity. Tools should be made available as per different needs for their success. Processes and established “how-to’s” of success in a company need a review, measures of behavioural and leadership competencies need to be re-looked…. In addition to “lovingly embracing the difference”

The world and need has moved or rather evolved from equality to equity. Equity is a more comprehensive concept that leads to better empowerment and levels the playing field. Equity means giving the tools required by different individuals as per their need whereas equality simply meant giving the same tools to everyone.

Diversity and inclusion are not standalone activities but part of the culture. Neither are they just the responsibility of the HR department …it needs to be embedded at the centre of the organization to actually create the ROI…

– Published on 9th July 2018 by Anjali Samuel, Managing Partner @ Mindfield Resources

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