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Gender Issues And Diversity Inclusion In The Workplace

An article in the Asia Sentinel reports on how Corporate India, facing a looming talent crunch, is reversing historical gender discrimination against women in a concerted drive to augment their female headcount. Multinationals, like Software giant IBM India, are at the forefront of these attempts with women-only recruitment drives being conducted across different Indian cities.

The article goes on to state that, “Companies are not only bringing in more women, they are also trying to retain the existing lot in novel and more proactive ways. A recent study by the Chennai-based, FLEXI Careers India, which sources only women executives, suggests that diversity hiring intent among leading companies has gone up by almost 500 percent since last year.”

Workplace DiversityNever before has there been so much diversity in the workplace as there is today, and it is not just accepted, but it is being celebrated and coveted by multinational companies.

Diversity in the workplace not only creates an inclusive environment, but also results in high performing teams, and strengthens people management.

What Does Diversity In The Workplace Mean?

Simply put, diversity in an organization means having people from a variety of backgrounds – culture, nationality, sex, age, personality, education, cognitive style – working together. What diversity will bring to the system is a variety of opinions, ideas and styles.

Human resources professionals in multinational companies work towards putting together policies for inclusion and diversity in order to increase the competitiveness and overall effectiveness of teams.

Benefits Of Diversity In The Workplace

When there is diversity, there is definitely variety and this can result in some great advantages for an organization. Here are some benefits that come with having a strong set of diversity policies:

  • Effectively adapting to customer needs – Having an employee base with different educational qualifications and skills helps in adapting to different needs of the customer, and helps in effectively allocating resources for appropriate projects.
  • A wide range of services provided to a wide range of geographies – Having people from different geographies and cultures helps in providing services to customers in various countries without facing any issues with language and communication etiquette.
  • Innovation – Employees with different skill sets and backgrounds ensure that several different ideas are brought to the table.

Challenges In Managing Diversity In A Workplace

Wherever there are policies, there are always challenges in managing them.  When it comes to diversity, there are some cultural and communication barriers that need to be overcome. There might also be groups of people who are unwilling to accept a change in the cultural face of the organization.

How Can An Organization Bring In And Maintain Diversity?

A poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, India (SHRM India) shows that more than two-thirds of organizations reported having diversity policies in place.

A majority of these also said that the policies that they had were in fact effective in achieving the intended results.  Some of the methods by which organizations address diversity in the workplace are:

  • Inclusive Recruiting And Retention Strategies

These involve the creation of recruiting strategies that are designed to increase diversity, for instance, starting a special recruitment drive for women. This also leads into the creation of specifically designed employee retention policies designed at retaining a diverse set of employees.

  • Diversity Education

This is a process that involves building the capabilities of employees to support an inclusive environment.  “MicroInequities” is a concept that employees in several multinational organizations are made aware of.

These are small, yet powerful negative messages that are sent out during interaction among members of a team or a group working together, for example, four members of a five member team speaking in a language that the fifth doesn’t understand or speak. This makes the fifth member feel excluded, and hence he or she may not be able to contribute effectively.

Training programs are designed to educate managers as well as individual contributors on how to avoid microinequities, and instead use positive messages to create a work environment that is effective and leverages diversity.

  • Diversity Awareness

Organising cultural events and programs, such as a “Women’s Day” or an “Id Month” celebration, for instance, go a long away in making employees aware of equality issues and celebrating the diversity that exists in an organization

  • Career Development And Mentoring

Having specifically designed career development and mentoring or coaching opportunities can improve diversity. For instance, Coca Cola has several “Business Resource Groups” that provide employees with a platform to connect with colleagues who share interests and backgrounds.

One of the keys to a healthy culture in an organization is to embrace diversity and leverage the variety and innovation that comes with it. This not only creates a good work atmosphere for employees, but also builds a strong brand for the organization.


Career Resources for Women:

  • Free MAPP Assessment – Are you happy with your job? Know what truly motivates you and what career is best for you. The MAPP Assessment reveals the real you – your natural motivations, interests and talents for work. By taking the test you identify your ideal careers and discover your strengths, your styles for communications, learning and leadership.

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