The future workforce of organizations will be much more diverse than it is today. Tomorrow’s workforce will include people of different genders, ages, races, ethnicities and lifestyles. The efficient use of this human capital will play an important role in the future competitiveness and economic performance of companies.
If companies lose the priority of diversity and inclusion (D&I) during the Covid-19 crisis, the impact is felt not only on the bottom line, but also in people’s lives. Research and experience warn us that diverse talent can be at risk during a downturn for several reasons, including that downsizing can have a disproportionate impact on the roles typically held by diverse talent.
As companies experiment with remote and hybrid shifts, it could reinforce existing exclusionary behaviors and unconscious biases and undermine inclusion. In addition, the unequal sharing of childcare and home schooling responsibilities, as well as the unequal availability of home office space and access to broadband could disadvantage women and minorities. during this period of remote work.
Advantages of D&I at this time
There is ample evidence that diverse and inclusive businesses are likely to make better, bolder decisions – a critical capability in the crisis. For example, diverse teams have been shown to be more likely to innovate radically and anticipate changes in consumer needs and consumption patterns, helping their businesses gain a competitive advantage.
In this context, the shift to remote working facilitated by technology since the Covid-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for companies to accelerate the creation of inclusive and agile cultures, which further challenges existing management routines. With its benefits of increased flexibility, remote work can make it easier to retain women and minorities, who often shoulder a disproportionate share of family chores. It thus expands access to a diverse pool of talent that may not have been available to companies before.
Moreover, a visible commitment to I&D during the crisis is likely to strengthen the overall image of companies and their license to operate. In times of crisis, stakeholders typically question a company’s purpose and values even more closely, potentially even more so in the current pandemic. Those that build on the growing sense of solidarity that characterizes the crisis – reaffirming their commitment to I&D, supporting vulnerable talent who are at higher risk of infection and reaching out to local communities – could boost employee motivation and gain lasting approval.
D&I in India
Companies and their leaders can seize this moment – both to protect the gains they have already made, as well as to leverage D&I to position themselves to thrive in the future. The process is already in full swing around the world and India is catching up. A development on their frontier was the India Diversity Conclave held in April 2021. This was the first conclave of the Indian Diversity Forum (IDF), a Section 8 company established to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion.
The Conclave witnessed the support of over 50 companies as Diversity Champions and AGS Health and Skillsoft as Associate Sponsors. Among them was Ankit Bansal, founder and CEO of Sapphire Human Solutions, and member of the IDF advisory board. He said: “IDF will work with its members to collectively raise the bar for D&I in India with a focus on delivering tangible and quantifiable results that lead to economic and social benefits for our members, industry and the nation as a whole”, while Dr Ritu Anand, Director of Leadership and Diversity, Tata Consultancy Services – also an IDF Advisor – said: “When mental barriers are broken down, economic success follows.”
Case in point: Sindhu Gangadharan
Since 2011, SAP has planned to increase female leadership by 25% in 2017 and 30% by 2022. Sindhu Gangadharan, Senior Vice President and General Manager of SAP Labs India, testifies to SAP’s advocacy for equality and inclusiveness. A long-time SAP employee and the first woman to lead SAP Labs India, she is breaking the glass ceiling not only in technology, but especially in India, where women’s empowerment is just beginning to gain momentum. .
Gangadharan started her career in the CRM Middleware space as a young developer in SAP Labs in Bangalore in 1999 before moving to Walldorf in 2001. Uprooting her family to India and fluent in the foreign language, she built her career in Germany during 18 years old, witnessed the growth and development of SuccessFactors, Fieldglass, Concur, Ariba, the cloud platform, S/4 and Digital Business Services. In 2019, Gangadharan was called up to a senior position in SAP Labs India as Managing Director to replace another SAP veteran, Dilipkumar Khandelwal.
Diversity Winner: Wipro
“Begin Again” is Wipro’s Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) initiative for women looking to re-launch their careers after a break, whether for a sabbatical, maternity leave, eldercare, trips, passion or any other personal reason. For Wipro’s LGBTQ+ community, the goal is to create a workplace and environment where they are welcomed, feel safe, treated with equal respect and acceptance, and free from bias. The company has a comprehensive “Pride” framework that guides its initiatives and programs in this space – right from promoting a fair workplace, reviewing existing policies, engaging leaders, conducting change through awareness sessions and engagement with the community and allies to build a strong network. Through its ERG, Wipro Pride aims to reinforce the importance of inclusion across the organization by creating a space where employees can share relevant information and best practices, meet other LGBTQ+ employees and Ally , discuss workplace concerns and more.
Diversity Winner: Accenture
Wherever possible, Accenture provides identical benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex partners. The company is leading change in the country with policies and benefits focused on the caregiver rather than marital status or gender. Partners of their LGBTI employees receive insurance benefits; trans men who can have children can benefit from the 26-week maternity leave; and all secondary caregivers, regardless of gender, are eligible for paternity, surrogacy and adoption leave. The company is also breaking down barriers with programs like Accenture’s Inclusive Internship, which focuses on hands-on experience and relevant work experience to build future careers for transgender and other marginalized youth.
For people with visible and invisible disabilities, Accenture thinks accessible, whether it’s deploying assistive technology or providing reasonable accommodations with workplace accommodations and transportation arrangements. Currently, 75% of the company’s applications are accessible. With programs like Abilities Unleashed, Accenture helps PwD (persons with disabilities) employees explore career opportunities they may not have considered before and become authentic leaders and role models.
Inclusive hiring in the hotel industry
Hospitality industry organizations such as Lemon Tree, InterContinental, Sarovar and ITC have identified disability-appropriate roles in catering, housekeeping, security, laundry and concierge services through various NGOs across the country. Big Bazaar is also closely linked to various NGOs that work with people with disabilities. These NGOs become the recruitment pools from which Big Bazaar hires. Jubilant Food Works runs the “Inclusive Employment Program” for people with disabilities. To date, they have recruited over 200 people with hearing and speech disabilities across the country to their restaurants.
McKinsey & Company, in its “Diversity Wins” report, took a close look at companies in their data set that achieve higher levels of diversity and enjoy an increased likelihood of financial outperformance. The common thread running through these diversity winners is a systematic approach, combined with bold steps to strengthen inclusion.
Diversity Winners not only articulate a tailored, business-driven pitch for D&I change and set overarching representation goals, they also think thoughtfully about which forms of multivariate diversity to prioritize and why. They focus on fostering various forms of diverse talent, particularly in leadership, line management, technical and board roles – not only dealing with leadership appointments, but also fixing the “running ladder”. shattered” from the corporate ladder along the way.
This article originally appeared in The CSR Journal’s January 2022 magazine. To pick up your copy, Click here