Many businesses state diversity and inclusivity as part of their needed CSR practices. But many emerging enterprises do not have the time to focus on these terms. To better understand why these terms are a focus area for human resources globally, we will define them in broad terms. This should help take the discussion further.
Defining Diversity and Inclusivity
Workforce Diversity covers the demographic similarities and differences in employees. This covers fundamental aspects like age, ethnic background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, and gender.
Workforce Inclusivity is concerned with the extent to which every employee in an organization is welcomed, supported, and appreciated as a team member. Many females feel excluded from the general discussions and decision-making in their workplace, especially if they are in male-dominated departments.
The fact is that Human Resource departments have been doing their best to bring concepts like diversity and inclusion into the front of HR Policies. However, there is still room for improvement.
Why Diversity and Inclusivity are Important?
Diverse teams allow for enhanced employee engagement and productivity, and they usually offer better problem-solving abilities as different perspectives often handle business challenges in another way.
When diverse workplaces offer an inclusive work environment, everyone’s contributions are valued. This means that individuals are given the opportunity to do their best work and advance.
When combined in a workplace, diversity and inclusivity are concepts that support each other. Having a diverse workforce, working in an inclusive environment can yield highly effective results for a workplace.
However, this is a formula open to misinterpretation. Businesses can hire diversity by hiring more women, people with disabilities, and multiple ethnicities. Still, it is useless if the workplace culture does not encourage different perspectives in taking the workplace forward.
It is essential to empower diversity and enable it to perform well. If businesses have an enabling environment, their workforce, regardless of diversity, will be able to do their best and advance. This helps companies to do better as well.
Managing Diversity and Inclusivity in Pakistan’s Work Environment,
Getting the right mix of diversity and inclusivity in a workplace is for Pakistani businesses. The following are some relevant strategies to apply and consider to promote diversity and inclusivity among employees in Pakistan:
- Education and Awareness:
Businesses can start by building awareness about the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workplace. HR can conduct workshops and training sessions to educate employees about diversity and inclusivity. This should include the benefits of diversity and how it can lead to a more innovative and productive work environment.
- Review Hiring Practices:
As an HR manager, asses your workplace’s hiring practices. If they are not inclusive, try to make them more wide-ranging. Apply blind candidate selection tools. (These allow for the removal of candidate details, like names, gender, and other personal information. This helps to reduce selection bias from the HR.)
- Promote Gender Diversity:
HR managers can encourage gender diversity by openly hiring and promoting women in leadership positions. Having back-to-work and career break programs allows for better support in career growth. They also help female employees to juggle family and work-life balance.
- Accommodate Different Abilities:
Businesses need to ensure that their workplace is accessible to employees with disabilities. It is essential to make reasonable adjustments to create an inclusive environment for all sorts of employees.
- Cultural Sensitivity:
Pakistan is a country with varied cultural backgrounds and people of multiple ethnicities. Workplaces need to encourage cultural sensitivity and inclusivity by facilitating cultural support and commemorating various holidays and traditions where possible.
- Anti-Discrimination Policies:
While this is stating the obvious, HR needs to implement clear anti-discrimination policies that shield employees from discrimination in any form due to their gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or any other individuality that is beyond their control.
- Employee Resource Groups:
Where needed (with sufficient employees), employee resource groups can be built to support other employees with common backgrounds or interests to connect, network, and share experiences. However, this needs to be assessed to avoid encouraging a lobby or union of allied interest that can harm workplace performance.
- Diverse Leadership:
Workplaces should ensure that employee diversity is implemented at all levels of the business. This includes leadership positions. Having diverse leadership helps to build an inclusive culture all through the company.
- Inclusive Benefits:
It is necessary to conduct regular reviews of employee benefits to ensure they cater to the needs of a diverse workforce. For instance, consider offering vegetarian food options in the canteen or recognizing diverse religious holidays helps employees feel valued.
- Conflict Resolution:
Workplaces and HR staff should be aware of protocols to follow if a conflict arises due to diversity. Recognition and handling of such disputes should be a priority. A quick and effective conflict resolution process should also be documented and shared with relevant staff. HR managers need to make sure that employees feel safe and supported when reporting any incidents of discrimination.
- Community Engagement:
HR managers need to get managers and the workforce involved in community initiatives and support social causes that encourage diversity and inclusivity.
HR managers need to remember that implementing and managing a culture of diversity and inclusion is a continuing process. It requires commitment and effort from the entire organization. By creating an inclusive workplace, you can attract and retain top talent and promote a positive and collaborative work environment in Pakistan.
Sadia Zaheer holds a Masters in Business Administration from IBA, Karachi. After working in several financial institutions in Client Management, Corporate Lending, Islamic Banking and Product Management she jumped careers to pursue a career in writing.
She is a Finance, Business and HR Development writer with four years of experience. She reads a lot and takes care of her multiple cats to remain calm.