India is a diverse country and most people at organisations come from different backgrounds to work together as a team. Diversity and inclusion at workplaces in India have become the topic of discussion lately and rightfully so, further strengthened by global awareness, discussion on social media, policy initiatives and progressive decisions made by organisations.
According to the National Family Health Survey 2019 - 21, reports state that women accounted for only 19.9% of the total Indian labour force. These statistics reflect the reality of gender inequality in India’s workplaces. One of the main reasons for this disparity was that married women were seen falling off the employment curve as balancing home and work without additional support became a challenge.
Women are often not considered fit for a job post a personal break, the leading factor being a maternity break and finding the right opportunity subsequently becomes a task. Over the years, organisations have made efforts to include women in the workforce, however, the results are often limited to participation at lower levels in the hierarchy. As one goes upwards the ladder of hierarchy, the number of women holding senior positions starts to fade. Another important aspect is the gender pay gap that most women face in organisations not just in India, but around the world.
Times are changing now
While conversations around these topics are increasing awareness, the primary objective is to build the right inclusive culture and environment for employees while also encouraging women by giving them equal opportunities to excel in their respective fields.
In recent years, women are moving ahead in leadership, especially in senior positions, while the pandemic situation continues to have a significant impact on businesses and organizations. Women are significantly playing more challenging roles than males given the priorities towards managing personal lives or family as well as work goals.
Despite these increasing pressures and exhaustion, women are now stepping up their game and multi-tasking- moving forward in their respective fields. Women are now coming to be stronger leaders by supporting their teams and encouraging diversity, inclusion and equality as well.
Over the years, there have been progressive practices to eliminate the gender pay and inclusion gap. Sensitization workshops are conducted for recruiters and hiring managers to encourage campus diversity hiring, proactive safety solutions for women, career and professional development for women, women alumni rehiring, hyper-local targeted high potential women leadership succession candidates, and increased representation of women in leadership roles.
With these in effect, a company can successfully fuel the commitment to a culture of inclusive leadership by top management also pushing male employees as advocates for gender diversity and inclusion.
Building a robust work environment empowering diversity and inclusion
A strong diversity and inclusion strategy can boost innovative results for organisations as well as attract top talent. The greater the diversity in the workplace, the more is the profitability and value creation for the company. Organisations are also now understanding that making diversity and inclusion one of the top priorities and practices helps build the reputation of the brand. Organisations need to create a sense of belonging for employees to encourage them to build a connection with the company and to improve productivity.
Having training modules and teaching the employees about inclusion is not enough. Like any form of behaviour change, inclusion needs individuals to identify key aspects in which they can build this as new habits or micro-behaviours. When these habits are put into play in an ecosystem that supports honest conversations and healthy tension, real change will be possible. People are designed to react with fear and distrust when their beliefs are questioned or challenged. While fear can be a powerful motivator, it also pushes employees to narrow their perspectives — the opposite desired effect for creating a more inclusive workplace. Finding ways to frame challenges through a lens of possibility is important for organisations. Enriching the power of shared experiences can create a great potential for positive change.