The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impact many aspects of our lives, and the value of diversity, equity and inclusion has been even more accentuated. With majority of workforce effected significantly, the impact it has had on women especially must not go unnoticed. Many women have either been let go in the face of expenses cut or have had to put in extra hours, managing children staying at home and working hard to keep their jobs secure.
Also, when companies are struggling to keep their businesses afloat, diversity and inclusion could be least of their immediate concerns. But it is in these uncertain times, we have an opportunity to ensure we not just maintain but accelerate the work to bring diversity and inclusion to the core of our corporate cultures.
The business case for diversity is even more apparent. A recent study by McKinsey highlights that companies with more than 30 percent women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30, and in turn, these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives or none at all. Equally for companies with ethnic and cultural diversity.
But in my opinion, today, the need for inclusion efforts is even higher than efforts for bringing in diversity. Diversity and inclusion demand different kind of efforts. Many progressive companies have adopted practices to ensure a mix of diverse cultures, races, and gender in their workforce. They would ensure they are politically correct and compliant when hiring or promoting people of color, different orientations, etc.
But are they inclusive? We hear numerous stories where women are subjected to sexual harassment, people of color are assigned derogatory tasks, and minority groups are ignored or looked down upon. Inclusion is when you truly embrace the diverse workforce around you. This can be seen when people have a sense of belonging, are paid, and treated equally and fairly. This is more of a workplace culture shift. This must be beyond the purview of HR (Human Resource) alone. Even relatively diverse companies face many challenges in creating a work environment where there is inclusive leadership and accountability, equality and fairness of opportunity, and openness and freedom from bias and discrimination.
Today, we celebrated women’s day, this year’s theme being #ChooseToChallenge. So, let us all choose to challenge and call out inequality and bias. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.