Diversity & Inclusion: Through a Multigenerational Lens

Written by Himani Rathore

Robot wearing a VR set
May 20, 2021 | Vagmita Sharma
The matter of Diversity and Inclusion has not left any aspect of our lives untouched — be it personal or professional. In fact, it has been a critical political agenda across nations, and organizations across the world are working towards making it a part of their mission, culture, and policies.

 

This also brings me to acknowledging the emphasis the new-age talent lays on diversity and inclusion as they enter the workplace or move up on their career ladder. Gen Z and Millennials have been in focus recently and are fast becoming the generations driving execution, change, and purpose in the organizations. It’s not surprising that a few organizations are building their strategies, engagement practices, and policies that help acquire, retain, and engage meaningfully with this breed of talent.

I had the privilege to engage with the top HR leaders and Diversity and Inclusion experts in the Asia Pacific through our latest SPAG Dialogue on the topic — Diversity and Inclusion: Talent Acquisition and Workplace Management for Millennials and Gen Z. This episode of SPAG Dialogue had an eclectic mix of speakers from various sectors that devised few brilliant takeaways.

Clockwise, From Left to Right: Moderator: Vagmita Sharma (Associate Director & Practice Lead EMPOWER, SPAG), Neena Bhaskar (Talent Acquisition Lead, Becton Dickinson), Surya Rai (Region HR Director, Reckitt), Eugene Lam (Sr Director HR, APAC, Danaher Corporation), Roshni Das (Head — Rewards & D&I, Marico Limited),

Bring Inclusion before Diversity

“How can an organization be diverse without inclusion?”

     Neena Bhasker, Talent Acquisition Lead, and D&I Expert, Becton Dickinson

It does make a lot more sense for organizations to be inclusive before they bring in diverse talents. And being inclusive begins right with ‘hiring’ practices that ensure the right and inclusive mix of talent gets access to participate in the recruitment process. Blind sieve interviews, where performance is measured over potential are one interesting way of putting this into practice.

To include the sense of belongingness, trust, and credibility in the employees, a few organizations, such as Marico, have also created a culture of membership — so, employees are not just “employees”, but “members” or “Mariconians”.

Are you really listening?

Millennials and Gen Z’s want to be heard and more so in times that are so unprecedented and uncertain. CEOs have stepped up to have a regular dialogue with their employees, taking steps to create a ‘listening organization’. Dialogues with CEOs are a great way to not just have the company message percolated top-down but also hear what the employees have to say. Such conversations are very effective in shaping and changing the way people approach D&I issues too. ‘Stronger Together Conversation Series’ is one such initiative taken up by Reckitt in the Asia Pacific region.

“At Marico, we believe in co-creation of policies and the employee value proposition pillars and therefore we are a listening organization actively gathering inputs through strong employee service, feedbacks and focus groups discussions.”

Roshni Das (Head — Rewards & D&I, Marico Limited)

D&I Beyond Policy and Metrics

Is it OK to keep D&I as a target? Well, maybe and maybe not.

Measurements and metrics may come across as a way for organizations to ‘somehow meet their targets’ or do ‘lip service’.

If structured and utilized well, these metrics can have great advantages. Regular and more frequent reviews with responsible managers and champions of diversity and inclusion in the system can help in keeping the focus high and also identify areas of improvement.

D&I should not be just about generation and gender, but geography as well. The companies are starting to see the value of D&I, but more can be done to promote true inclusion that is not merely to meet metrics — much more ingrained in the culture and mindfulness of each employee and leader in the organization.

If you invite someone to your party…be willing to dance with them too!

Eugene Lam (Sr Director HR, APAC, Danaher Corporation)

It’s not just a policy. It’s a journey leading to empowerment.

Gen Z and Millennials seek involvement, authentic communication, and a purpose. It’s THEIR journey of growing professionally and being empowered. Organizations need to respect that and give more opportunities to employees to contribute their diverse views and perspectives. More so, it’s of utmost importance for leaders to understand what their employees mean by diversity and inclusion.

Employee Collaboration is very important to this generation. They wish to make meaningful contributions to both their company and society, adopt technology to improve the lives of others, and have leaders who listen and amplify their ideas to help them succeed.

Surya Rai (Region HR Director, Reckitt)

Flexibility, Upskilling, and Technology

Most organizations globally are at a very critical juncture where they need to effectively manage their workforce to be able to deliver. The pandemic (and therefore the new way of working) and a clear shift towards a multigenerational, diverse and inclusive workforce is posing unique scenarios for the leaders — those they may not have encountered earlier.

Flexible solutions which adapt with the evolving times; upskilling employees from different generations to be able to contribute and participate — be empowered’ and adoption of technology by all generations will be key to a successful diverse workforce that feels included

Diversity and Inclusion practices will define the DNA of the future of workplaces. Are you gearing up for it?

 

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