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Companies not doing enough on diversity, inclusion and belonging policies

Companies not doing enough on diversity, inclusion and belonging policies
Photo Credit: Pixabay
7 Apr, 2022
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While Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DI&B) is becoming the cornerstone of today’s successful workplaces, and not prioritising it could hit organisational performance, the reality is starkly different. According to a new report by leading job site Indeed, only 21% of organisations surveyed have instituted formal DI&B policies. This shows companies are still lagging on their DI&B efforts.

The report showed, 39% of employers believe that DI&B awareness in their organisations do not quite measure up. Additionally, 40% of employers do not have a formal approach to DI&B — however are of the opinion that they are inclusive or actively discouraging discrimination.

This highlights the disparity between what employers believe and the reality of DI&B policies within the organisation. This is primarily due to various challenges such as lack of leadership vision or using a one-size-fits-all approach that they face informally implementing.

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The survey also points out that 73% of employees wish to work at organisations that actively promote such initiatives. This is a testament to the fact that culture plays a strong role in attracting, retaining employees and hence employers need to induct proper initiatives to solve the talent crunch issues they currently face.

“Greater acceptance of a diverse workforce has been gaining ground among Indian employers for more than a decade now. The new configurations of work due to the pandemic and the ongoing talent war have accelerated the journey towards Diversity, Inclusivity and Belonging,” said Sashi Kumar, Head of Sales, Indeed India, commenting on the findings.

He added, “Companies understand that these initiatives are valuable in attracting and retaining talent, boosting innovation and productivity, enhancing employee engagement, and responsible for overall growth of the company. With nearly half of all employers surveyed (49%) having implemented DI&B initiatives over the past 18 months or more, we can see that prioritising DI&B is at the forefront for organisations.”

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Large enterprises lead the curve

Large organisations have been leading the curve when it comes to DI&B initiatives. More than two out of three large businesses are aware or very sensitive to the cause with 37% of all large organisations surveyed having laid out formal DI&B policies and 33% having adopted these policies. 73% of small business either have inadequate awareness or lack awareness altogether, however a significant proportion of medium-sized (19%) and small organisations (12%) than large (10%) are on the path to formalisation.

IT and Knowledge Services leads, with 33% of the respondents from the sector having instituted formal policies, while 71% of the Media and Entertainment sector respondents are planning to formalize. The tech-hub, Hyderabad, has the highest proportion of respondents who have instituted formal policies (35%), while Delhi, with 71%, leads the intent to formalise and Chennai leads cities on adoption with 36%.

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Unconscious bias in the workplace

Unconscious bias against racial groups, genders, LGBTIQ+, and other marginalised groups is a widely acknowledged phenomenon. Nearly one in four employees believe that they are ignored in social settings and meetings (24%), feel physically or emotionally threatened (23%) or face slurs and innuendos during interactions (22%).  

According to employees surveyed, biases linked to disability status (47%) and gender and sexual orientation (44%) dominate Indian workplaces, followed by age and marital status (36%) and religion, caste and ethnicity (33%).

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From employers’ perspectives, organisations have instituted various measures to address these concerns of discrimination and be receptive to inclusivity. The most prominent among these measures are sensitisation workshops and communication initiatives (68%), Employee Resource Groups and similar measures (41%), and promoting LGBTIQ+ rights in the workplace (37%). This highlights that DI&B measures are critical in countering unconscious biases in the long run.

Achieving inclusivity in the workplace

As per the study, a majority of the employees find that DI&B measures are crucial and feel that employers need to focus more on better policymaking and more effective implementation to sustain in the long run.

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With just 21% of the respondents reposing faith in the existing DI&B measures, employee scepticism puts a question mark on their sustainability. However, over the years, DI&B has gained perspective as an intelligent talent strategy, not just a social good practice.

Good news is, with growing evidence of tangible outcomes such as increased productivity, innovation and employee engagement, organisations have begun to implement DI&B initiatives, irrespective of formal policies being instituted. DI&B implementation is accelerating, and a surprisingly high proportion of employer’s plan to roll out initiatives over the next 6-18 months.