“Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice and having that voice be heard”
By: Kadia Tubman,NeilsenThe importance of gender diversity within the workplace is a well-accepted fact now. While more and more companies are addressing the necessity to bridge the gender gap in their respective businesses, there are quite a few examples where gender diversity has remained just a ‘buzzword’ with only nominal lip-service paid to the urgent and current need for a diversified workforce.
Organizations at certain functions and levels, still remain less than accepting of their women workforce. Successful women are still an exception, irrespective of the norm, as they continue to struggle with the chauvinist thinking that has moved out of the Indian homes and crept into our workplaces. To say this, may be politically incorrect but if the ugly truth is not borne, there cannot be progress.
Few pieces of researches indicate that organizations with better financial performance have more women in leadership roles. Organizations within the top 20% bracket with respect to financial performance report 37% of their leaders are women vs. organizations at the bottom 20%, report that only 19% of their leaders are women.
While this clearly points to the positive benefits of gender diversity, it also highlights how disturbingly imbalanced the gender demographics still are when it is related to leadership.
Few obstacles in achieving Gender Diversity in the Workplace
What can be done to improve the execution of inclusion policies?
Increasing gender diversity in the workplace through strategic initiatives can be beneficial in the following ways:
Boosting employee morale
Sensitizing the workforce to the need for inclusive behavior
Bringing the inclusion perspective into strategic discussions around operational priorities conducted at the C-suite level
Widen Talent Pool: Undoubtedly, different individuals have different talents, skills and attributes, which they can contribute to an organization’s success.
Increase Productivity: With a diverse pool of talents, there is no doubt that an organization will record a significant increase in productivity.
Increase Financial Returns: Due to greater employee engagement, performance and increased productivity within the workplace, gender diversity leads to an increase in financial returns.
Social Cohesion – Gender-inclusiveness in the office helps to restructure women’s roles in society, create a sense of social cohesion. This shapes people’s values and behaviors toward work and women.
Steps to make your workplace more Gender Diverse
Increasing gender diversity in the workplace is not a simple and quick process; it takes a lot of time and planning. The following steps are a great way to approach this big task in a manageable way.
Take stock of the current situation at your company. You can’t move forward if you don’t know what to focus on. Some ways of doing this are running a Diversity & Inclusion Survey or undergoing a pay gap analysis. It’s important to use data and not just anecdotal evidence.
Once you’re able to review data, focus on the action areas and keep an eye out for your blind spots. An Immediate action may be required, for instance, changes in recruitment practices or promotion cycles. You should also start ongoing training on unconscious biases and educating your team on the perception gaps between women and men in the workplace.
Lastly, changes will take leadership sponsorship and dedication. Increasing gender diversity is not simply an initiative of the Human Resources team. As leaders of the company one should support the focus on gender diversity and remain dedicated to it.
Till now, policies around inclusion appear to have restricted to only print word for Indian employers. These policies need to be woven into the fabric of an organization for women employees to feel secure about discussing their work-life dynamics and successfully delivering on expectations – both inside the workplace and outside.
Equally importantly, it is the business at the grass-roots level that needs to lead the agenda on gender diversity for an organization to see real action and movement happening on the ground. HR can play an important role and assist in executing the agenda through establishing policies, processes and supporting infrastructure – but establishing a culture of inclusivity begins at the top and has to be a business goal and key metric.
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