Diversity and Inclusion is one of the most talked about topic in the corporate world today. Years of research and organizational experience has proved that being Diverse and Inclusive is not just the right thing to do but it has a critical business imperative.
Most leading organizations across the world have put in place initiatives, policies and functions to help achieve their D&I agenda that comes as an open commitment from the highest levels of the organization.
So, what does it take to make an organization truly diverse and inclusive?
Here are few thoughts:
- What gets measured gets achieved – So if organizations are to be truly diverse and inclusive, they need to lay out clear matrix and parameters that they will consciously work towards. But just having a matrix is not enough, what is also needed is regular review of the matrix.
- Organizational culture is key – Diversity & Inclusion is about having and promoting the right culture. And since culture flows from the top, commitment at the highest level towards the D&I agenda is critical for its success.
- Diversity Specialists – Diversity & Inclusion is a complex area. It requires conscious effort both at the individual and organizational level. For the D&I agenda to truly take shape and flourish, it needs dedicated D&I Specialists who understand the subject deeply, are committed and equipped to manage and promote concrete D&I initiatives within the organization.
Of the 3 things mentioned above, having D&I Specialists within the organization is the most critical.
So, what is the role of a D&I Specialist:
- Strategy – A D&I Specialist is responsible for formulating and driving the D&I Strategy of the organization. If this strategy is to truly work, it must be in line with the overall business strategy of the organization.
- Training – Another critical role of a D&I Specialist is to train people in building a diverse and inclusive culture. No D&I Strategy can be successful unless every person in the organization understands what it is and is able to work towards building a diverse and inclusive culture through everyday actions. This requires training of all employees to understand the meaning of Diversity & Inclusion, understanding biases, understanding and eliminating everyday micro inequalities.
- Benchmarking – The D&I Agenda of any organization should be in line with the best practices of thought-leaders. This means that the D&I Specialist is also responsible for benchmarking the organizational D&I practices and agenda with other organizations across the globe.
- Compliance – While every large organization has a legal department to take care of various types of compliance, a D&I Specialist must also understand the legal aspect of D&I and be able to advice the organization in legal matters related to Diversity & Inclusion.
- Events – Though this may seem like an unimportant aspect but conducting regular events around D&I are critical to keep the messaging on top of everyone’s mind. Practicing diversity and inclusion needs a change in the mindset, and this change can be brought about by exposing employees to various ideas and though-leaders on diversity and inclusion so that people truly understand the meaning of D&I.
To be able to do this complex job successfully, a D&I Specialist must undergo formal training. Traditionally, people who work in the space of D&I were minorities from diverse groups, this then expanded to D&I enthusiasts but the need now is to have professionals who are specifically trained in various aspects of D&I to truly do justice to this critical aspect.