D&I: A Thought, An Agenda, Or An Emotion?

D&I: A Thought, An Agenda, Or An Emotion?

The essence of D&I is measured by the sustainability of everything we do to promote it and translate our vision into reality.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are the buzzwords and top priorities for most organisations. From establishing strategic pillars to specific interventions, we see a lot of great work done by professionals on the D&I front. However, we should all ask ourselves whether D&I is a thought that stems from a view of equality and freedom of expression, an agenda that has the potential to achieve critical business objectives or a deep emotion that unveils the layers of belongingness.


D&I focuses on the workforce mix in terms of key demographics, including gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, educational background, experience, and so on.


Various initiatives that organisations take to enhance the D&I mix include hiring talent from different industries, geographical backgrounds, qualifications, etc. There is also a massive focus on attracting more women, differently-abled resources, and the third gender to bring more diverse perspectives in handling business operations. After hiring, the next step is to onboard and nurture them by creating an ecosystem that supports a diverse workforce by honing people managers’ mindsets to enable diversity in their teams and organisation, adopting the right inclusion practices and having requisite infrastructure pertaining to employees’ health and hygiene needs.


Organisations are also focusing on building capabilities for their workforce to have diverse representation in senior management. Moreover, there is now a lot of diversity in roles that were previously not so diverse.


We also come across a lot of social media content about D&I Meets, Roundtable Talks with industry experts advocating D&I Best Practices at work and pledging to leverage more diversity within their organisations. However, the bigger question is whether D&I is just demographics, structured thoughts of business leaders or sets of activities around special occasions.


For me, D&I is an emotion, a sense of belongingness, an absence of unconscious bias, and a rendition of feelings in the workplace. Ambitious numbers, hiring targets, strategising various meets, conducting focus group discussions, organising workshops, and creating awareness amongst all employees ensure that we are off to a good start. However, the essence of D&I is measured by the sustainability of everything we do to promote it and translate our vision into reality.


Here are a few ways to get the desired outcomes from your D&I strategy:


Leadership Buy-In


It is imperative to discuss the ‘what’ and ‘how’ aspects of attracting, building and retaining a diverse workforce in multiple forums for key stakeholders to see the value of the D&I proposition. When any initiative is pursued, leadership buy-in will have a ripple effect to ensure that everyone in the organisation is aligned with the larger intent.


Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Forums


Every organisation should strive to have structured ERGs that include employees from different organisational levels, genders, departments, backgrounds, etc. These groups should meet consistently and hold forums to discuss new initiatives that can be implemented to strengthen D&I as an emotion. The best part of ERGs is the team itself, which represents the very essence of D&I, making conversations and idea-sharing more relatable, natural, and organic.


Outside-In Perspective


Internal team members should have regular discussions with colleagues from previous organisations and friends in different work streams so that external practices that have worked wonders can be customised and replicated with pride in your organisation. There could be a quarterly meeting with open interaction and a fluid agenda to encourage people to speak up and share their perspectives on how D&I could become an emotion.


Vision Board with Clear Goals


The most integral part of any strategic focus area is a vision board with S.M.A.R.T goals and defined timelines so that the year-on-year progress can be tracked and deviations discussed and worked on for course correction. For example, suppose you are planning to increase the gender diversity to Y% from the existing X%. In that case, it is important to ascertain the current vacancies, study the hiring trends of the past, analyse attrition, define clear channels of hiring, set targets for business leaders and hiring managers, and track those targets with set timelines (say, quarterly, biannually or annually).




Strengthening D&I has various pros, including opening up a world of opportunities for untapped talent, boosting productivity and employee engagement, fostering creativity and innovation, facilitating faster problem-solving, broadening the internal talent pool with diverse skill sets, and making the organisation an employer of choice. It is about time we infused the D&I focus into organisational DNA to improve the overall work culture and develop an intrinsic emotional bond with and among employees.


Meenakshree Nanda is a diversified HR professional with 11 years of rich experience in various verticals of HR. She is currently working as a Senior HRBP at DP World. She holds a dual Masters in Human Resources & Labour Law and is a Certified Facilitator, Instructional Designer, Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, and HR Analytics Professional.


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