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Learn The A, B, C Of Diversity And Inclusion At The Workplace

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The aversion towards building a safe and inclusive workplace for employees in a workplace stems largely from a lack of knowledge. Corporate structures are unable to understand how diversity and inclusion mandates should be approached. This leads to them wholly ignoring the issue at hand.

Language plays an important role in building systems which are capable of being diverse and inclusive for employees in a workplace. Hence, a general understanding of the diversity and inclusion alphabet allows HR professionals and corporate structures to diversity and inclusion (D&I) mandates in a better way.

Starting conversations around diversity and inclusion helps organisations take on these issues head-on. Narratives that celebrate and incorporate differences among employees helps organisations attain an inclusive safe space while also optimising employee output.

HR professionals need to update themselves with D&I terminology in order to build safer work spaces for all. Representational image.

Following are a set of diversity and inclusion alphabets that organisations must take note of to build a dynamic and growing working environment.

Ableism: This refers to the biased mindset that society harbours about an ideal structure for body and mind. This mindset plays into hiring practices as well as workspaces too where disabled employees face prejudice from recruiters. Moreover, a lack of accessibility also presents infrastructural hindrances to them.

Accessibility: Accessibility refers to spaces, resources and digital or physical environments that are not difficult to reach or use for everyone.

Affinity Bias: This refers to the bias that plays into everyday interactions. Affinity bias is when individuals choose to associate with those who are most similar to them. Moreover, this leads to a lack of accessibility to spaces of networking for minority groups within workplaces.

Affirmative Action: This refers to actions and policies taken by authorities that are in favour of groups and sections who face the brunt of discrimination.

Ally: Ally is a person who stands in solidarity with groups that have a clear lack of privilege compared to their own spaces of privilege. Allies take active part in building and rebuilding systems of oppression, sometimes at the cost of their own privilege.

Behavioural Diversity: This is how personal experiences help individuals unlearn orthodox belief systems. Individuals learn to acknowledge and make space for a diverse group of employees through their own interactions with those who are different from them.

Bias: These are a systemic belief system that comes into play while rationalising. With biases in place, an individual’s brain registers only presupposed judgements against certain groups. Consequently, this leads to unfair attitudes towards said group.

Cognitive Diversity: This refers to the different ways in which different individuals register information differently. Moreover, cognitive diversity also leads to different perceptions of information and situations for different people.

Conscious Prejudice: This refers to preconceived notions that are largely negative. Conscious prejudice acts against individuals who are part of larger groups and sections like social position, caste location or religious identity.

Corporate Social Responsibility: This refers to positive actions taken by corporate sectors for minority groups. This also refers to corporates going beyond profit generation to make impactful changes within their work spaces as well as for communities outside their work spaces.

Culture Fit: This refers to when an individual’s ideologies and values align with the larger organisation’s values and ideologies.

DE&I: Acronym for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Discrimination: While prejudice refers to the presupposed judgements one harbours towards a particular social group, discrimination refers to negative actions arising from the prejudice. Moreover, discrimination also refers to systemic behaviour that places certain social groups in a position of clear disadvantage.

Diversity: This refers to differences in cultural, behavioural as well as cross-functional knowledge.

Emotional Tax: This refers to an individual feeling out of place at work due to threats of bias. Moreover, this also refers to individuals feeling threatened for their gender identity, social position or ethnicity. Emotional tax also has effects on work output as well as general health and well-being for employees in workplaces.

Employee Resource Group: This refers to employee led volunteer groups that aim to create a diverse and inclusive workplace for all employees within the workplace.

How Inclusion Audits Can Help Make Workplaces Safer for Non-Binary Employees
Companies need to equip themselves through training and awareness programs that focus on education and action, both. Representational image.

Equality: Equality refers to giving same access and resources to all. This notions functions on the basis that everyone starts off on an equal footing. Moreover, equality also functions on the notion that everyone has access to equal opportunities while treating everyone in the same way.

Equity: Equity is referring to designing policies that acknowledge age old barriers still in place. This also means creating access and resources that are present to remove unique barriers. Equity functions on the notion that not everyone has the same kind of systemic obstructions in place.

Groupthink: This refers to a collective way of thinking that hinders individual thought processes. Groupthink also causes barriers to innovation within workplaces.

Inclusion: Inclusion refers to creating spaces and policies that provide access to resources and materials for individuals and groups belonging to diverse social categories. Moreover, inclusion also refers to empowering and valuing differences within workplaces and supporting said differences.

Intersectionality: This is when multiple identities exist in coalition. For example, a Dalit woman has intersections of caste and gender interacting in her experiences of workplace culture. Intersectionality also refers to acknowledging diverse identities while creating inclusive policies.

Microaffirmations: This refers to subtle gestures that are made to make an employee feel valued in the work they have done. Microaffirmations involve facial expressions, different tone of voice and so on that acknowledge an employee’s work while creating a sense of belonging.

Microaggressions: This refers to subtle exclusions that negatively impact someone. These may seem harmless on the surface but interact with larger systems of oppression.

Neurodiverse: This refers differences in neurological functioning. Neurodiversity also highlights learning and developmental disabilities like ADHD and Autism.

Prejudice: This refers to conscious or unconscious suppositions against a group of people. Consequently, prejudice also refers to attitudes and feelings one harbours towards certain individuals on the basis of them being part of a larger social group or against said social groups themselves.

Stereotypes: These are once again presupposed representations of a particular group. Stereotypes are cognitive representations of certain traits associated with certain groups.

An understanding of the diversity and inclusion terminology can help workplaces adapt better to capacity building practices. Training and awareness programs that not only work towards educating workplaces about these terms, but also put positive affirmations into action, need to be conducted.

In a remote working environment as well as in a rapidly developing workforce, DE&I mandates help HR professionals build better and safer work spaces for all their employees.

Featured image, by Wim Klerkx, is for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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