Our workplaces are systems that have been historically influenced by our societies good and bad. Organizations can play a vital role in correcting societal inequities and drive transformational holistic change.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) is beyond just celebrating Pride month or Women’s History month. Organizations can play a vital role in driving societal change through their DEIB approach and strategy.
While the investments in DEIB may differ from large corporations, MNCs or small businesses, DEIB can no longer be side-lined as an optional ‘good to have’.
In my conversations on this topic, I often share the simple fundamental principles of DEIB that help move the needle towards holistic change. Sharing these views here, especially for those early on in their #DEI journey -
Diversity is a societal and existential reality
Our world is diverse, period!
Intersectionality is a given, it is the different layers of identity that makes our experiences of the world different. We need to Acknowledge that each of us are unique and have multiple identities.
Whether an organization cares about diversity or not, our workforce will be diverse by default. In today's competitive, pandemic induced workplace with social justice issues being amplified, we need to accept, embrace and leverage this diversity to succeed, innovate, but most importantly to sustain.
Representation matters and it impacts the services we provide and the products we build. Research highlights that Gen Z’ers care deeply about social justice issues and are purpose driven. They are likely to engage and stay committed to an organization who cares about diversity and want to drive meaningful change.
Inclusion is an Organizational Capability
'Being Inclusive' is not a state, it’s a journey fraught with learning and unlearning, some highs and many lows. It’s an org. capability that would require an amalgamated effort by the leadership team, multiple functions and the employees. It is NOT just one team/functions responsibility.
Actions can vary depending on your business model, culture, people dynamics, focus areas and other factors, but at the core of it is foundation of equity, empathy, safety and acknowledgement of all.
Inclusion cannot just be about #DEI training and sensitization sessions, it needs to be thought through in every aspect of our workplace. Right from the approach to employer brand messaging, hiring and recruitment processes, on-boarding new employees, client relationships, advancement & opportunities, representation and leadership programs, performance reviews and pay parity, people engagement & experience, policies, programs and beyond.
Listening to the voice of your people via data and insights and anonymous surveys helps in building your inclusion strategy.
Inclusion is driven both top down and bottom up. It’s vital to engage the under-represented and marginalized employees in our workplaces, when we design inclusion efforts, this can be via communities, ERGs/Affinity groups.
Leaders who are care about building equitable and sustainable businesses, bring about mindful, fair and holistic change.
Equity = Fair and equal opportunity
How we experience the workplace is similar to how we experience the world at large. The inequities, discrimination and challenges we see outside exists as much in our workplaces.
Equity simply put, is the efforts made to address systemic inequalities to achieve greater fairness of outcomes via affirmative action. We know, we don’t all start at the same place because advantages and barriers exist. These barriers extend to our workplaces as well.
Designing initiatives & programs to level the playing field and overcoming these barriers needs us to -
Communicate clearly the purpose, vision and expectations to the leadership team, managers and employees.
Involvement of the said under-represented group of employees and partnering with them in designing the affirmative action helps in building winning solutions.
Engage with dissent, as rigid DEI mandates without expressing the true intent discourages involvement and connect. Having open honest conversations, discussing challenges and taking people along with you in the DEI journey is critical. This will build genuine solidarity and allyship.
Partnerships with organizations whose primary focus is working with this under-represented group (eg. LGBTQ+ or People with Disability)
Be a DEIB advocate and voice - Organizations need to go beyond just performative efforts to be a champion and advocate of DEIB both internally and externally.
Belonging = Is me and my authentic connections
Belonging is about ME and how I feel. It is unique to me and a confluence of –
Diversity - I see people like me
Inclusion - I am included, heard, acknowledged & can bring my whole self to work
Equity - I can be vulnerable here, I feel empowered. You are my advocate & ally you care that I am treated with dignity, fairness and respect
Belonging and acceptance makes you contribute to the best of your ability. It helps you understand each other, empathize and build genuine connections and helps you overcome barriers.
In conclusion, in today's global, inter-connected world an intentional DEI approach can manifest into meaningful transformational change. This of course does not happen overnight, but the benefits are huge, making DEI part of your organisations fabric and DNA.
YES this is possible, even if we start now.
P.S – This blog was written for LinkedIn and published on