From Talk to Action: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion in Today’s Workplace

22 Jun 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving workplace landscape, the concept of diversity and inclusion has shifted from mere talk to an imperative for action. Recognizing the multitude of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences that employees bring to the table, companies are realizing that creating an inclusive environment is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage. By fostering a culture that celebrates differences and ensures equitable opportunities, organizations can tap into the vast pool of talent, unlock innovation, and cultivate a stronger sense of belonging among their workforces.

According to a research, $12 trillion can be added to the global GDP if gender gap is reduced by 2025. The McKinsey further reports that ethnically diverse companies outperform peers by 36% and gender diverse companies by 48%.

Adding further to the importance of D&I, another study suggesting that companies having diverse management teams recorded 19 per cent higher revenue. Thus, tracing a directly proportional relationship between diversity and growth.

These facts make a strong case that inclusion is a powerful business lever, not just a social imperative. If we analyse it from the corporate lens, more people from different backgrounds bring their unique ideas, experiences, and approaches to one table. India, being home to multiple cultures, languages, and ethnicities adds a completely new dimension to the concept. 

Essential Elements 

Diversity and inclusion are two essential elements that contribute to a healthy and productive work environment. Inclusive workplaces promote a sense of belonging and encourage employees to contribute their ideas and talents, making them feel valued and included, thus increasing their engagement and commitment to their work. Embracing this diversity is not just the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do. Companies and organisations must ensure that they are creating a work environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. 

Diversity for Business Solutions

There is growing consensus that an organisation’s ability to innovate and come up with novel business solutions hinges on having a diverse workforce. As companies in India take proactive steps to promote diversity and inclusion, the government is also introducing policies to support these efforts. One such policy highlight is SEBI’s mandate issued last year, which requires companies to have at least one female director on their board. This mandate has resulted in an 8% increase in the number of women directors on boards in the last five years. In addition to adopting women-friendly initiatives and policies, companies are also hiring LGBTQ+ individuals for certain positions, further promoting inclusivity in the workplace.

Towards D&I

However, achieving a diverse and inclusive society is a challenging task. It requires a concerted effort from everyone, from national leaders to ordinary citizens. We must recognise and challenge the biases and prejudices that exist in our society and create policies that promote diversity and inclusion. We must encourage manufacturing establishments to build a dedicated D&I vision that should cascade into the organisational strategy leading to actionable initiatives. Building a D&I Council along with creating a charter that can be implemented and tracked within the organisation, reviewing/ updating recruitment policies, implementing diversity training, and fostering a culture of inclusivity can be some potential steps to be undertaken in this direction. 

To give thrust to gender diversity in the Northern Region industry, CII will organise industrial visits, engaging workshops, and awareness sessions on sensitising people towards diverse communities. This would not just lead to the creation of gender parity but would aid in achieving India’s global commitment towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5: Gender Equality). 

India is headed on a transformative road where we need to realise the potential of diverse communities and promote inclusive growth. Diversity and inclusion are no longer a ‘good-to-have’ policy in today’s competitive business landscape but a ‘must-have’, leveraging a true competitive advantage. The future belongs to organisations that sincerely plan and implement strategies to create opportunities for a diverse workforce in an inclusive way and CII will endeavour towards pioneering this change.

The article was contributed by Mr Deepak Jain, Chairman, CII Northern Region and Chairman & MD, Lumax Industries Ltd, and was first published in the May 2023 edition of CII Northern Insights.

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