Diversity and Inclusion - The Ingredients for Organisational Success

Diversity and Inclusion - The Ingredients for Organisational Success

“Diversity is being invited to a party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

The challenges posed by today's workforce diversity are caused not by the changing composition of the workforce, but by work organizations’ incapacity to effectively integrate and utilize a heterogeneous workforce at all levels of the organization. Granted, some firms are incorporating diversity goals into their strategic planning and adopting the organization-wide policy, but even those improvements are primarily focused on internal organizational processes.

Inclusion in the workplace has long been a guiding principle for organizations. Creating diverse and inclusive workplace settings is one of the most difficult tasks we face today. It is not, however, impossible. It is, nevertheless, challenging for several companies. Many organizations have mastered the concept of diversity, but not inclusion. For some, if there is diversity at the workplace, inclusion comes in automatically. While some may view diversity and inclusion to be the same.

One must understand that diversity is the "what" while inclusion is the "how." Diversity focuses on the demographics of your workforce, their gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and veteran status whereas inclusion is a measure of culture that encourages diversity to thrive. 

Individual and intergroup differences are valued and utilized in the inclusive workplace. It collaborates with and contributes to the community around it. An inclusive workplace responds to the needs of minorities in the surrounding community and collaborates with individuals, groups, and organizations from all over the world. It is critical to creating effective ways to demonstrate to employees that their diversity is an asset, not a disadvantage. This inspires people to be their authentic selves and give their all at work, building their confidence and improving relationships along the way.

On the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision decriminalizing homosexuality, Axis Bank unveiled a charter of policies and practices to foster an inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ employees and customers. The private sector lender said in announcing its #ComeAsYouAre charter that, in the spirit of the Supreme Court decision, these new policies and procedures encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion inside the firm and for its customers. Under the new policies, all Axis Bank workers, regardless of gender, sex, or marital status, can list their partners for mediclaim benefits. One can now dress according to their gender or gender expression. Employees can use the restroom of their choosing based on their gender expression or gender identity. Another change was the addition of Mx. as a title for gender-fluid and transgender people. Axis Bank further mentioned that its LGBTQIA+ employees can seek recourse under the lender's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy and Human Rights Policy. The organization was identified to be the 3rd largest venture that identified and initiated inclusivity for employees as well as customers. Clearly in a democratic country like India, where equal opportunity is a fundamental right, promoting fairness and economic opportunities to minority sections of society is the right and ethical thing to do.

The bank strives to embrace and encourage diverse perspectives and believes that a unique intersectional combination of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental ability, diverse backgrounds, cognitive skill, culture, age, race, and ethnicity makes an organization stronger.  Inclusive culture and emphasis on health and well-being help ensure that everyone – regardless of background – feels included and can perform at their best. Interactions with different individuals with different life experiences and perspectives, produce a bigger mix of ideas and encourage innovation – this is the foundation of our reputation as an organization’s success. 

While these initiatives are excellent starting points, an organization that wants to truly prioritize inclusion should foster a culture that values diverse ideas, opinions, experiences, and people. People-surveying and employing a diverse workforce are simply two parts of the puzzle. The key to creating an inclusive work environment is ensuring that each employee feels included, and this is where many businesses falter. To establish a culture that seems inclusive, you need sincere commitment from everyone, every day and throughout a business. Leaders must also demonstrate that they genuinely appreciate the people behind the ideas and experiences. Inclusion is centered on the daily interactions of employees, managers, leaders, teams, and peers. To put it another way, true inclusive workplace practices are dependent on leadership backing and grassroots energy.

What comes to mind first when you think of workplace inclusion? An invitation to a coworker's birthday celebration? Do you go to a weekly women's group during your lunch break? Is your boss understanding of your requirements as a working parent? All of the above is correct. From onboarding to an employee's last day on the job, inclusion occurs on a daily basis. A sense of belonging, connection, and community in the workplace can be used to assess workplace inclusion. It all comes down to how connected you feel to your workplace and the people around you. People are encouraged to contribute their "full selves" to work in a company that has mastered inclusiveness. This is what makes inclusion real: expressing different points of view and feeling connected to others.