Diversity is the differences that people bring to the workplace in terms of gender, race, culture, identity, abilities etc. However, just having diverse people in the organization is not enough, these differences should be understood, recognized and valued – that is inclusion. And it is inclusion that makes diversity work. While, this common definition of diversity is widely understood and accepted, Deloitte in its research found that diversity itself is viewed differently by different generations.
Millennials believe that diversity is about people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives coming together; and when these different people work together innovation happens. Generation X, on the other hand, looks at diversity as a fair representation of different groups in the organization without connecting it to business results. With such complex perception of the definition itself, diversity and inclusion programs are tough to conceptualize as well.
One way to design diversity and inclusion programs is to look at different initiatives in the stages of the employee life cycle. Here are different programs for diversity and inclusion that organizations can run:
- Attracting Candidates – Diversity and inclusion programs at this stage should focus on attracting candidates from diverse sources rather than just the go-to college campuses. This brings in a pool of diverse candidates right at the start. Some avenues for diversity hiring can be job fairs held specially for diverse groups like the Pride job fairs in India or tying up with NGOs that work with veterans or differently abled.
- Recruitment – Once a diverse pool of candidates has been identified, the next stage is to initiate the recruitment process. At this stage the D&I programs should ensure that recruiters have been trained on unconscious biases, the process itself should be bias-free and inclusive. Processes like use of blind resumes, neutral job descriptions that don’t give undue advantage to certain sections, use of Artificial Intelligence in initial screening process and a diverse interview panel should be instituted. At the same time, setting clear expectations with the recruiters is critical.
- Onboarding – The next stage in the employee life cycle is onboarding. At this stage, the diversity and inclusion programs should ensure that all employees feel welcome, they are able to express themselves without fear and the company guidelines with reference to diversity and inclusion are clearly communicated to them. Induction programs should be inclusive and should delve into topics like unconscious biases and expected workplace behaviors.
- Learning and Development – L&D provides immense opportunity for diversity and inclusion programs. All learning and development programs should be inclusive and open to all based on roles and needs. Learning interventions should focus on topics like identifying and overcoming unconscious biases, identifying micro inequalities, building a psychologically safe work environment etc.
- Rewards & Recognition and Benefits – All rewards, recognition and benefit programs should be designed to promote equality. Rewards and recognition programs should be designed in a way that they include people from various diverse groups and promote equality. Benefits, on the other hand, should be designed in a way that they are equitable. For example, providing flexible work options to young parents so that they can perform at par with others is an example of equality through equity.
- Retention/Exit – The last stage of the employee life cycle is retention or exit. At this stage diversity and inclusion programs should ensure that people from all diverse groups are retained in the organization. Exit interviews should provide key insights on whether other diversity and inclusion initiatives are successful in the organization or not – exit due to lack of inclusion should be considered seriously.
At the center of these different programs for diversity and inclusion is the D&I strategy. All programs should align with the overall diversity and inclusion strategy of the organization.