DEI; Moving up the Agenda in India?

7 Minutes

“Diversity is not how we differ; Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” ...

By Rinkal Choudhary

Candidate Manager

“Diversity is not how we differ; Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.”

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Diversity move up organizations' agenda. As a result, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn a deeper level of trust and more commitment from their employees. What makes an organization successful? It’s the employees; who put hours into their work; coordination, management, colleague interaction, understanding the business needs, etc. This is why it is important to create an environment that supports DEI. By ensuring that people from all backgrounds and genders are accepted without discrimination, employees will thrive. But what is really meant by the term DEI; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

Diversity- The presence of people with different characteristics from skills and traits to things that shape identity such as; socioeconomic background, gender, race, age, religion, and sexual orientation.

Equity- Is acceptance of such differences and ensuring a fair, and impartial treatment of the workforce.

Inclusion- Every employee feels a sense of belonging and support.

The workplace is an interactive and comfortable place for all colleagues. India is a diverse country consisting of multiple languages and ethnicities. Every state in India is unique in terms of culture and the way people think and live. This diverse nature is what makes the task of understanding Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in India subsequently more difficult. In the last few years, however, the conversations around DEI in India have gained traction. Increased awareness of the topic, alongside the explosion of social media, positive influence from global events, efforts of advocacy from organizations, and progressive judgments by the Indian Judiciary; the conversation around DEI has really bloomed.

Over time both the Government and the Private sector have realized the need for DEI strategies in India and have implemented conscious steps to promote Diversity in the workplace. For example, initiatives have been taken to extend maternity leave to six months from the previous maximum of 12 weeks. We have also seen the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights in organizations, the Passing of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill in Parliament, and the financial markets regulator SEBI has mandated the requirement of at least one female Director on the board for all listed companies. This has led to an increase in the number of women on company boards from 5% in 2012 to 17% in 2022. The recent success of DEI in India, has led to the hiring of employees from different cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, of different sexual orientations, and with different physical abilities.

Although one of the biggest improvements we have seen in this space is that of female workers where there has been an increase of women in the workforce. A great example of this is the fantastic work Amazon is doing. As a multi-national company, they are setting a great example to others by having all-female delivery services, with the sole purpose of empowering women and allowing them to have their independence. With all of the fantastic developments we are seeing here in India, I wanted to share some tips on how to develop a successful DEI strategy.

Organizations should try to ensure that the strategy is relevant and appropriate for their space; by considering the nature and size of the organization, they can determine that their strategy is broad enough to cover the maximum number of diverse categories, whilst having sufficient depth to take their specific business needs into account. I have compiled some steps, which organizations can take to implement DEI within their workplace:

Areas of Concern – Finding your organization's areas of concern helps to raise awareness and shows accountability within your workplace. Collecting data on diversity, equality, and inclusivity helps to understand the workforce and find the key areas of inequality to work on. Identify the Problems and

Offer Solutions - It is crucial for an organization to create a structured plan that will be successful in achieving the desired objectives after identifying the critical areas.

Evaluate DEI and Related Policies or Practices – Ensure you review previous policies and understand the factors contributing to organizational gaps before introducing additional initiatives.

Plan and Implement the Initiative – Following analysis, plan and carry out the initiative. Create a roadmap with precise and achievable goals. Include staff in training and workshops to increase understanding and participation.

Measure and Disseminate Outcomes – After implementing the plan it’s important to analyze and check if you are on the right track or have deviated from the original plan.

The progress made in the direction of fostering more Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the past few years has been quite encouraging, but India is quite early on in its journey and I look forward to seeing further progress. Organizations should view DEI as an opportunity and instrument for growth and not as a tick-box exercise.

If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to speak more on the subject of DEI in India please feel free to reach out.

Furthermore, if you are an HR professional looking to hire or are looking for your next move within the HR space contact Rinkal Choudhary via LinkedIn or at rc@elliottscotthr.com. Rinkal is a Candidate Manager for Elliott Scott HR, she supports the India office by providing recruitment administrative aid, maintaining the database, and creating job boards and candidate reports.