Diversity, Equity and Inclusion champions lead D&I initiatives within the organization. They engage a broad spectrum of employees in conversations related to identity, unconscious bias and inclusion practices in teams.
Enhancing Diversity is the starting point for such initiatives. Diversity is a quantitative and qualitative measure of how people are different on various counts such as cognitive traits and preferences, race, culture and ethnicity. Self-identity refers to the sense of self – “Who am I” and Identity is the perception of who a person is in the social context.
By understanding different dimensions of diversity, organizations become aware, acknowledge, appreciate, and finally play on diversity to deliver better business results. There are multiple models of diversity that have been suggested by various psychologists and research institutes.
In the Asian context, language, religion, socioeconomic status, food habits, gender and sexual orientation are some of the important dimensions. In India, being one of the oldest civilizations, diversity is a given. Regional and religious diversity are two significant dimensions of diversity in India. Tied to the regional diversity is the diversity of language (with over 200 languages spoken).
By sensitizing employees of the local traditions, cultural norms (both tacit and explicit) and then blending them with organizational values we can provide a predictable, coherent and inclusive workplace context to the employees.
Lee Gardenswartz and Anita Rowe have done extensive work in the space of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Their 4-dimension model of diversity clarifies the genesis of the self-identity and helps us understand which aspects of identity could be relevant from the organizational aspect.
4-Dimension model of diversity
Level 1: Personality — This covers all the factors that constitute the personal style of the person. Behavioural style, personality traits, own interests and passion are unique to an individual and together constitute the overall unique personality of a person. Several assessments are available to measure differences in the personality – such as DiSC and MBTI. However, when a person derives their identity from a certain personality, the context may be more subjective than something that can be measured by an objective tool.
Level 2: Internal Dimensions — This represents diversity at the individual level especially the one that an individual is born or have an inborn tendency for. For example, ethnicity, race, gender, physical ability and sexual orientation. These remain largely static throughout one’s life. Organizations focus a lot of their diversity measures and programs on this form of diversity.
Level 3: External Dimensions — This dimension relates to the stage of life a person is at. It’s certainly more dynamic than the Internal dimensions level. There is a greater sense of control on this dimension of diversity. It includes aspects like habits, work experience, educational qualification, marital status and income. This dimension changes over a period.
Level 4: Organizational Dimensions — This dimension, which the individual may have some control on is largely influenced by the organization. It relates to the work location, job title, job role, seniority and status of an individual within an organization.
The current dialogue around Diversity usually relate to the Personality, Internal and External dimensions of diversity. By understanding the degree of discrimination minority groups within these dimensions may face and building programs to counter the effect of related biases and stereotypes, organizations can build an inclusive workplace.