Diversity and Inclusion | Best Practices in India

Diversity and Inclusion practices have evolved to become the focal point for many organizations in India. Organizations today recognize the business case for diversity and inclusion and proactively taking steps to become more diverse and inclusive to attain a competitive advantage. However, since diversity and inclusion have a strong cultural and sometimes even legal context, D&I practices vary widely between countries to meet the local needs.

Let us first understand how the Indian context is unique and impacts D&I practices:

  • Region and language form a key component of Diversity and Inclusion in India. With stark regional differences and multiple languages being spoken this is an aspect of diversity that must be considered in India.
  • The legal system in India has various provisions regarding employment of women, persons with disabilities and with the removal of Article 377, the LGBTQ community as well. Organizations must at a minimum adhere to these legal provisions.
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in India vary significantly in terms of infrastructure, opportunities and even the education system. This adds an element to the diversity make-up particularly among the new hires. This is an important aspect that organizations must consider while defining their D&I policies and practices.
  • Generational Diversity is another critical component particularly considering the population and the pool of younger talent available in the country.

Considering this unique Indian context here are some emerging best practices in the space of Diversity and Inclusion in India:

Leadership Commitment –

Organizations like Infosys that have successful and robust Diversity & Inclusion practices have strong leadership commitment to the D&I vision and goals. To drive this commitment, Infosys measure Diversity and Inclusion as a significant measure in the corporate score card.

An annual inclusion survey is conducted to get feedback on the D&I initiatives from the various diverse groups. All business units are also assessed on their performance in the space of diversity and inclusion. These practices ensure that Diversity & Inclusion are on top of every business unit’s and leader’s agenda. (Ref: How Companies in India are Leveraging the Business Benefits of Diversity & Inclusion Report on Seminar held in Mumbai – March 2010)

Creating an Inclusive Environment –

Organizations in India have also put in significant effort in creating an Inclusive environment. Some best practices in this are:

  • Employee Resource Groups – Creating ERGs are a great way to enable employees to connect with others, share their expectations and concerns and drive engagement. Most Indian organizations focus on female employees such resource groups since driving gender inclusion is a top priority for them.
  • Second Career Drives – Many organizations like ThoughtWorks and HP have career return programs for women returning to their second careers after a break. Since in India taking career breaks for women due to marriage, maternity or other family commitments is a norm, such programs are a key to drive diversity and inclusion.
  • Mentoring & Learning Programs – Another initiative for building an Inclusive environment is through career development opportunities for all diverse groups. Mentoring programs and training interventions are available to all employees to provide equal opportunity for development. Some organizations also conduct special mentoring programs for diverse groups to address their unique needs.

D&I Related Learning Interventions –

Another best practice followed by most Indian organizations to build a diverse and inclusive culture is through learning interventions. Building a culture is a matter of developing the right mindset and creating the right mindset takes effort and time. Learning and development play a key role in enabling a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Most Indian organizations conduct training programs for diversity and inclusion that are centered around Overcoming Unconscious Biases, Identifying Micro Exclusions, Understanding the Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion and training D&I Champions and Allies.

With these best practices, many Indian organizations have seen significant improvement in the D&I Index. However, diversity and inclusion are ever evolving and need evolving practices to ensure continued commitment towards it.