These three little words has been in limelight for the last five years. Major tech companies namely Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are being scrutinized for need for diversity and their slow progress in achieving it. Some progress has been made since 2014. Facebook, for example, says the proportion of its global female workforce has increased from 15% to 23%. However, differences between ethnic groups are still small and ageism remains elusive.

What lies at the heart of every successful company? A great product. And how does it come to exist? People. A company, a product or a service is the result of continuous collaboration of intellectual minds to turn an idea, want or need into reality. Innovation is the competitive business advantage that global companies rely on to differentiate and grow. A study by Boston Consulting Group found that nearly 75% of organizations include innovation as one of their top three priorities, with 22% stating it as their top most priority.

So how do companies aim at achieve this goal today? They do this by creating an environment of inclusitivity. An enviroment where people are not only incentivised or motivated to do a good job, but are appreciated for their efforts. An enviroment where there is room to make mistakes, there is an exposure to constructive criticism, involved decision-making, and employees who collectively work together.

Who are these people after all? We can describe them in so many ways. Men, Women, Indians, Asians, Americans, Able, Disable, Theists, Atheists, Black, White, or Brown. Or we can just call them what they are: ISRO scientists on space project, engineers developing Apple's next iPhone. How does their physical and socioeconomic factors affect their work?

Does it matter? Should it matter? If so, where? We are all unique, both in our personality or talent. This is where the need to learn and recognize employees' individual differences arises, in order to capitalize on their uniqueness. The tech industry is a good example of this. Tech-savvy employees can work better than others, which also affects the production of goods and services the business produces. For example, speech recognition initially did not respond to women because the designer who tested the product was male. Similarly, face recognition performs poorly at detecting dark faces due to bias in the training data.

Now that it is established that diversity and inclusion impact the kind, quality and functioning of products a company can produce, let's dive deeper and examine the inclusion levels; surface and deep-level diversity are two things that lead to what happens in the company and throughout the business. The major factor things that drives the stereotypes and discrimination is the media and how it portrays characters. While Sardars in Bollywood are often "drivers who impart life lessons", films of the 90s often depict "South Indian music teachers struggling with Hindi". However, most of the population may not stereotype them personally. But we often assign them roles based on it. Inclusion and participation challenge such roles. While we demand a diverse force, inclusion is the stick and measure of the depth and importance of these roles. Do these projects provide power, voice , and support to the community? Gender pay refers to the rights of men and women to receive equal pay for the work they do. Equal pay for equal work. While we all talk about women being paid less in the workplace, it is well-known that women in the modeling industry are paid more than men. This differential payment sends a clear message about how society benefits people. This difference can be seen when considering all the jobs where women are paid more than men, such as consulting, publishing, and many clerical jobs. So take advantage of the offer sometimes to fill these gaps. This means promoting diversity and supporting members of disadvantaged groups who suffer or are culturally discriminated against. To highlight such examples of companies taking important steps in employment would employment of hiring specially-abled staff by Lemon Tree Hotels, which employs over 600 differentially abled employees in all aspects of hotel life. Whether the disability is physical or mental, Lemon Tree hires them and trains them accordingly. They were not satisfied with just inclusion, they went one step further by integrating diverse employees into the workforce; Having a mixed workforce is a new norm. All Lemon Tree employees are required to learn the language and certain minimum requirements to communicate with people having differential abilities. Best of all, the company did everything without affecting profits.

Another such event is JPMorgan Chase's global initiative to partner with women leaders. They admire good talent every year and believe that women can be successful. One of the projects, Women in Action, is dedicated to the development of women. The program helps female employees, clients and customers grow their businesses, improve their finances and boost their careers.

Often, evidence is needed for a faulty group or group to succeed. But success will depend on the sincerity and consistency of the goals of government and business organizations and the attitude towards it. Finally, CEOs and HR leaders must balance the practice of recognition with the need to empower employees in ways that benefit the organization and society.

Finally, we are left with just one question. Profitability. DEI programs are often viewed as voluntary initiatives or a checkbox for companies to participate. Appoint a DEI officer, conduct a press release, and get it done. To clarify, a 2019 McKinsey & Company analysis found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to be profitable than companies in the fourth quartile compared to 2017. This rate was 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014. In addition, companies with more than 30 percent female directors were likely to perform better from companies with 10 to 30 percent female senior managers. In turn, these companies are more likely to outperform companies with few or no senior female leaders.. On the subject of productivity, the Academy of Management Journal study concluded that “racial diversity in top and bottom management can increase employee productivity.” Additionally, according to Forbes, the included group makes up to 87?tter business decisions. They make decisions twice as fast, in half the meetings.

Finally, inclusive decisions are better decisions when it comes to innovation and creativity. Forbes found that 85% of business leaders believe “a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that lead to innovation.” Another study found that people need to be safe and supported, only then can they contribute new and creative ideas. Companies with different levels of diversity have a 19% increase in revenue from innovation.

Diversity is not just an idea opinion or a single thought; but multiple studies prove its benefits. Most importantly, different perspectives encourage innovation. This is not just about changing the face of the organization. It's about getting diverse perspectives, experiences, knowledge, seats, and voice at the table.

About the author,

    Jigyansa Singh

Jigyansa Singh is a PGDM student from IMT Hyderabad. She loves exploring new ideas. She is passionate about philosophy, travel, and food

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