This post is a reflection and thoughts on diversity and inclusion. Something that you will definitely find as a value in any multinational companies across all sectors! From Microsoft, Accenture, McKinsey, Amazon, etc, all of them are making commitment in being inclusive, and they have dedicated teams and employee volunteers to support the effort. In Accenture, we have the I&D Team, we have Pride Allies, Women Mentoring Program, mental wellness, disability, etc. There are efforts to be inclusive all over the organization. It’s amazing when I can hear on a day-to-day basis that someone is coming a bit late/going back a bit early to drop off/pick up their kid, and there’s no one that comments “wow, he/she is using that kind of excuse not to work!”. Personally, I’m currently part of the pride ally network, while continuously looking for other ways to be involved in the I&D initiatives.
There are also widely available resources on why it can bring value to the organization. UBS proved that LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace can boost a firm’s financial performance and gain a competitive advantage over peers. McKinsey released a report that reinforced the persistence of relationship between diversity & business performance. CloverPop showed that being more inclusive in your decision making can make better business decisions faster. In 2017, Deloitte shared that 69% of executives put priority on diversity & inclusion.
If we want diversity & inclusion effort to actually be meaningful, we require participation from everyone. An inclusive culture doesn’t happen because the CEO says we have to be inclusive, or because Wall Street says that they want the company to be inclusive so the stock price goes up! An inclusive culture happens because the employees and the leaders are consciously making effort to be inclusive!
That brings me to the first question:
What does diversity & inclusion means for you?
I love a mantra I heard when I was in Microsoft.
Come as you are, do what you love
Now, whether it actually happened on the ground was another matter altogether. But the mantra itself is solid and reflects what diversity & inclusion means for me. Being inclusive means supporting an environment that allows you, me, and everyone else to be authentic. Being authentic means acting in ways that genuinely shows how we feel, without the concern of negative implications, without the need to tailor personalities to be accepted.
I used to hear people give a “be authentic” advice. But then when I’m authentic and straightforward, they get mad! Talk about confusing. (Honestly, this is similar to when your boss says “I’m open to feedback and have an open door policy. Please do share all your concerns with me”). Oftentimes, I think a “be authentic” advice means “be more expressive in sharing what I want you to tell me”, and isn’t that frustrating?
And when I mention inclusion, I really do mean everyone. No discrimination based on gender, age, marriage status, country, orientation, religion, whatever. An idea or contribution doesn’t have any less value if it came from people you don’t like!
Then the next question,
Are you actually inclusive?
Repeatedly saying “we need to be inclusive” is not enough. It needs to be backed up by actions from each and every one of us.
Reflect on yourself:
- Do you assume that people who work differently / less hours are less committed to their work?
- In meetings, are you disregarding opinions/views/suggestions from certain people?
- In meetings, do you talk over some people a lot? (E.g: cutting off the more junior employees or women)
- Is your team made up of similar profiles? (E.g: similar race, religious views, gender, etc)
- Are you making jokes/comments at the expense of certain group of people? (E.g: “Don’t be such a girl”)
- Are you expecting your team to work late because you also work late?
Honestly, if you answer yes to any of those questions, I’d say that you have some work to do and dig deep on why you do it. Of course those questions are not exhaustive, but it gives you a start!
Personally I’m still not perfect, and that’s why I love getting feedback on how people feel when they interact with me. I’m fine with being called straightforward (to the point some can be surprised), but what I’m watching out is if someone feels bullied/discriminated because of what I did. Without the people that gave me feedback, I wouldn’t have realized my own shortcomings! Like they say, it’s easy to find fault at others, but it’s hard to find your own fault.
To close, this is a great resource from Catalyst on how you can be inclusive everyday