While companies are taking baby steps in meeting their diversity goals, it is time for them to up the ante. Several reports and data demonstrate that companies implementing Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) not only improve their overall business performance and reputation but are more likely to outperform their peers in profitability.
Here are some ways that organisations can accelerate their D&I journey.
Leadership commitment: Leadership commitment is paramount in directing a company’s D&I initiatives. Without unwavering support and active involvement from top management, these programs often lack the necessary resources, influence, and direction to effect real change. Leadership commitment sets the tone for the entire organisation, signalling that D&I is not just a superficial endeavour but a core value woven into the company’s fabric. It fosters a culture of inclusivity, encourages diverse perspectives, and ultimately enhances innovation, employee morale, and overall business performance.
Flexible working policies: The evolution of flexible working hours and remote work policies in numerous companies post-COVID represents a significant step towards supporting women who want to balance their professional careers with their family responsibilities. Providing more opportunities, these policies can help enhance work-life balance, reduce bias, and support working parents. This can help organisations leverage the full potential of their workforce.
Beneficial HR policies: HR policies must promote diverse experiences and beliefs to foster diversity. For example, expanding the inclusivity of policies beyond traditional spousal designations by allowing employees to designate a partner as a health insurance beneficiary. Providing facilities such as maternity and paternity leave policies can also support working parents, helping them to balance their family and professional commitments more effectively. To create a more inclusive work environment, some tech companies in India have introduced policies that provide additional benefits to working mothers, such as extended maternity leave, lactation rooms, and flexible work arrangements.
Changes in the hiring process: Campus hiring is now a potent tool for achieving diversity objectives across various sectors. Many companies in India, both Indian and multinational, across different sectors, have taken proactive measures to attract female talent at the early stages of their careers to achieve their diversity goals. For instance, some companies in the power sector have consistently hired 30% of their workforce from female candidates in colleges over the past decade, which has significantly increased women’s participation in the oil and energy sector. Additionally, adopting inclusive recruitment and promotion policies prioritising merit over traditional biases can help create a diverse workforce, as seen in some companies’ commitment to gender diversity in leadership positions.
Creating diversity metrics and accountability: Establishing clear-cut diversity metrics and accountability to promote D&I is essential to monitor metrics related to diversity, such as gender balance and representation of the LGBTQI+ community. These metrics will serve as a tangible benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness of D&I initiatives and hold companies accountable for fulfilling their commitments.
The future of diversity and inclusion in Indian companies is promising yet challenging. Though India Inc. is still a while away from embracing diversity, companies have started thinking about diversity strategies that look beyond women. Prioritising inclusivity will generate more representative workforces and foster professional environments that encourage innovation and resilience, besides being good for business.