Observing From A Different Lens

Observing From A Different Lens

If the emphasis is genuinely on equality, then the approach must start from the hiring decisions itself. If one wants to see results, then one needs to strike a genuine balance.


So said a noble person “Equality is giving everyone a shoe, Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits!"


Diversity and Inclusion (D & I) is the buzzword in the corporate arena these days, and often, is the topic of water-cooler conversations. Everyone speaks about enhancing diversity, promoting inclusion, and laud the advantages of diverse workplaces.


The need for Equality


Equality is all about ensuring that equal opportunities are made available to everyone. And often, it boils down to transparency, and consequently, fairness over how people are chosen for opportunities. Equity is just as important. It means being fair and impartial, ensuring everyone, regardless of background or experience, have all they need to be successful. It is simply not about taking from one person (or group) and giving to another. An inclusive workplace is not about trying to force people to change their minds on things that they inherently believe in. It is about a balance of respect. It is not about agreeing with someone else’s views, but overlooking those to see the value they bring to the business. It is their skillset that should be the primary and only consideration when it comes to a workplace environment.


But, as with everything else, there is a flip side to diversity as well. As a concept, when it comes to inclusion in the workplace, it is always worth considering it in line with respect and tolerance. One of the disadvantages of equality in the workplace is that it does not come if there is no serious effort. Getting people to overcome the stereotypes about each other can take time and work - possibly in the form of seminars and training programmes. Though this involves time and money, if there is no training, one will have to deal with other potential problems. There will always be complaints. For instance, nearly thirty percent males have stated that the progress made in terms of gender equality has come at their expense. Often, it takes conscious effort to see past such things and judge fairly.


Disadvantages of a diverse workforce


Some notable disadvantages in having a diverse workforce are mentioned below:-


♦ Communication may be tougher, even if everyone is speaking English.


♦ Workers from certain countries and cultures that value deference to management may not speak up without active encouragement.


♦ Standards of polite behaviour differ wildly across cultures. People may be self-conscious about what they say or the kind of jokes they make since they are apprehensive about unintentionally offending someone


♦ Social integration is something that can only be influenced to a small degree. The formation of cliques and exclusive social groups is impossible to control.


♦ Some people with bigoted attitudes who do not keep their views in check may create a tense, hostile environment


♦ And finally, there are always people who refuse to accept the fact that the cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. The “we’ve always done it this way” mindset mutes down fresh ideas and inhibits progress. This is generally noticed among people from older generations.


The pros and cons of diversity afflict companies of every size and force them to evaluate their current team structures. But problems arise when the goal is to promote an individual instead of the team, thus making the diversity initiative to fall flat. Therefore, it is essential to go beyond what one sees to create a team that complements one another. If the emphasis is genuinely on equality, then the approach must start from the hiring decisions itself. Giving lip service to inclusiveness is not the same as making it a priority and this is where most organisations falter. If one wants to see results, then one needs to strike a genuine balance.


Sakshi Sood is HR-Business Partner, Merck Sharp & Dohme. She has worked with reputed organisations across different sectors in the past. She is an Electronics Engineering graduate from NIT, Surat with MBA in HR from SIBM, Pune. Sakshi is an avid reader, she takes keen interest in the current happenings in HR world


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