On life of the many changing factors, our roles as leaders and HR professionals have become much more difficult when putting in place an inclusive people strategy. While there are many conversations about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, few of them consider an investment towards building a sustainable organization built to last, rather than a specific goal they want to achieve.
Inclusion beyond the demographic diversities that are constantly highlighted such as gender, age, race, sexual orientation. It also includes experiential diversities and cognitive diversities that reflect the way we approach problems, our differences in perspective, and how we process information. All those factors have become essential to consider when we set our strategies, policies and programs.
Although gender diversity has been set a high priority for many global and local organizations, the focus mostly still remains on narrowing the gender gap by improving women representation across the organization, and more specifically at the leadership levels.
A good start for organizations is to open the channels of communication in order to identify what people want, what they value
Furthermore, while most organizations have embedded this direction within their HR agendas, the drive for gender balance has not been clearly communicated. As an HR professional, it is relatively clear and straightforward to me that when the global workforce is represented by only 50% of its population, we are surely missing out on the perspective of the other 50%. That in return impacts the value those might bring into the organization in terms of innovation and problem solving to drive change and deliver results. As much as gender balance is important for a healthy workforce, it is surely not the only factor organizations must focus on.
We tend to forget that in today’s world, and maybe for the first time in history, there are four generations in the workplace. The different mentalities, preferences, and motivations among those generations have introduced some unexpected core challenges. Each group has its own distinct characteristics, values, and attitudes toward work based on its generation’s life experiences. Therefore in order to successfully integrate these diverse generations into the workplace and to actively demonstrate respect and inclusion at all levels, we need to implement fundamental changes to our recruitment processes, our benefits, and our corporate culture. We need to invest time in understanding what makes each generation tick, and embed that in our policies, procedures and practices. For example, for baby boomers, recognition could be what drives their motivation, thus the need for us to constantly recognize their value, and to create opportunities for them to share their experiences and transfer their knowledge. Also, while we know that everyone at the workplace seeks respect, not all generations define it in the same way. The younger generation is more vocal about ideas and expects organizations to pay attention and take those ideas seriously. Accordingly, it becomes critical to motivate them by providing them with that space, fuel their innovation and consider their ideas.
When it comes to cultural diversity, a distinct characteristic of the UAE is that its population comprises more than 200 nationalities, with about 80 percent expatriates. This diversity raises the need for us employers to consider cultural differences at every level. Our policies and practices need to be built in a way for everyone to feel truly welcome, safe, and free to be themselves in the workplace. It is our role to ask the questions, to get to know our people, and to create awareness around the importance of this diversity. We should also be role models in diversifying our teams, respecting each other’s differences, and most importantly celebrating those differences across.
A good start for us organizations is to open the channels of communication in order to identify what people want, what they value and how they would like to articulate it. We should be willing to disrupt our current practices, and to expand our people strategies so they truly reflect the needs of our teams and are in line with the needs of the dynamic world of today. We should ensure that our people strategies incorporate flexibility, wellbeing, and continuous learning and development. As leaders, we come to understand that driving a sustainable business will only be achieved by ensuring an engaged mixed workforce that provides the workplace with a range of abilities, experience, knowledge, and strengths brought by its heterogeneity in age, background, ethnicity, physical abilities, beliefs, and other attributes.
This article was featured in Silicon India