Several organisations are now beginning to understand the importance of measuring Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at their workplace as a precursor to embarking on a D&I effort. In this article, we show you six quick ways to actually begin this.
While organisations can choose to focus on particular aspects of diversity, by choosing to recruit, for example, under-represented castes, classes or genders, the point of D&I is for every voice to find space.
With the effect that the pandemic and lockdown has had on everyone, inclusion and making sure that all colleagues are part of a “whole” that an organisation represents has become more important than every before. Feeling isolated is a serious risk to productivity. One of the ways to ensure that your D&I efforts are working, especially in the lockdown condition, is by practicing daily check-ins with your staff: have peers set up these sessions, ask how they are doing and connect with each other.
From a diversity standpoint, with COVID-19, we also need to ask about the needs are of each sub-group, including those working from home with children, those who are alone or those who are tackling significant carework responsibilities and and might be in danger of a burnout. In terms of measurement and setting up D&I, therefore, it is important to have a baseline source of data on everyone and how they are doing every day. This baseline data is the data you need as a starting point to improve from.
One of the first things to recognise about D&I is that even if you have daily baseline data and a wonderful quantifiable framework, your measurement is not going to be perfect. The number one way to make your peace with D&I efforts and the lack of ease in measuring it is to create your organisation’s own path and framework. Check out Conduct, a SaaS platform and product to help you understand D&I at your organisation.
The pandemic has created many new challenges — people who haven’t hitherto felt excluded or who have always found ways to buddy-up in physical workspaces might sometimes also find themselves more marginalised and isolated than they ever imagined. Creative teams, for instance, who are used to working in “huddles”, might suddenly find themselves unable to express themselves as much in an online environment.
Not everyone is also at the same level of confidence or technical ability to take to working online with ease and at the same pace as everyone else. Perhaps, someone’s work profile prior to the pandemic didn’t require the use of computers much, but now it does. There is going to be a coping challenge.
Sometimes, things that don’t seem directly relevant, such as ease with language or technology, also matter to D&I goals. These items also need baseline measurement. The Conduct platform uses many such metrics to build a thorough diversity profile of your organisation’s staff.
Every organisation has a unique DNA and has aspects and ways in which they want to be able to succeed on the D&I path. Data and measurability is one part of it. The other important part is setting up a framework. This process must involve leadership as much as possible and must do two main things:
Particularly during the pandemic, for instance, it may help to refine and re-prioritise your goals for your team from a D&I perspective. For example, many of Ungender’s interviews with senior HR leadership reveal that mental health is a growing concern.
Through all the industry interviews we conduct, one common thread to a successful change in work culture change is the interest and push provided by senior folks at organisations. Get your leadership at the board and CEO level interested. Show them the data and make the benefits visible from a compliance perspective. Most senior leaders are more than happy to be pulled into efforts like this, and their experience counts. Include them. A senior technical leader or an HR person might be the right leader for other leadership projects. Find an ally in leadership.
The pandemic is a great opportunity to discuss these issues with your leadership because nearly all leaderships are grappling with a vastly changed business environment.
For all and every organisation that has ever embarked on a D&I workplace journey, the main point has been the journey and learnings. Trying to make a workplace inclusive is a challenging endeavour. It involves changing how you build infrastructurally, how you recruit, how you govern, how much you cost, and even how you pay and measure performance.
There is no singular idea of diversity and no singular roadmap to success. With D&I, the idea should be make a dent, a significant change and measure that Most Significant Change, as opposed to ticking checkboxes on a D&I checklist.
D&I efforts also rest on cultural change and a large part of the struggle is for people who have historically been excluded to now be included, many for the first-times in their lives. Organisations that understand this must also commit to developing the community and Employee Resource Groups or peer support networks for under-represented groups within organisations.
This is easier to get started on that it seems, because people automatically self-segment themselves into clusters based on commonalities of background, ethnicity and regional language. Conduct helps organisations understand these clusters as they exist in your organisation currently, at baseline. With a baseline understanding, one can then plug gaps faster.
About the author: Ungender Insights is the product of our learning from advisory work at Ungender. Our team specialises in advising workplaces on workplace diversity and inclusion. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to understand how we can partner with your organisation to build a more inclusive workplace.