Building An Equitable Workplace

Building An Equitable Workplace

An equitable workforce brings with itself a diverse range of skills, experiences and perspectives which fosters innovation. Thus, it is a no brainer that there is merit in building an equitable workforce.


A study by McKinsey and SHRM evaluated workplaces with different levels of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and found that organisations that value DEI bring in more sales revenue, more customers, and higher profits.


People in an equitable workplace know that they are valued and cared for what they bring to the table and there are equal opportunities for everyone to grow in their careers.


An equitable workforce brings with itself a diverse range of skills, experiences and perspectives which fosters innovation. Thus, it is a no brainer that there is merit in building an equitable workforce.


Over the years, organisations across the globe have worked towards putting a wide set of programmes and practices to create an equitable workplace. However, there is still a long way to go to provide a level playing field where everyone experiences equal opportunities.


Much of it could be attributed to the fact that most of the efforts that organisations have taken can be perceived as a quick fix rather than preparing the organisation for institutionalising a long-term change. Creating and sustaining real change requires organisation-wide efforts where organisations aim to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent equal participation of some groups.


Some of the critical aspects an organisation must lay emphasis on are:


Lay Down the Intent


To build an inclusive and equitable organisation, as a first step, leaders must pronounce their intent vividly. Significant changes like these need substantial efforts by the leadership in terms of making their commitment towards building an equitable workforce visible to all. At the same time, they must make conscious decisions that allow diverse groups to feel included and valued.


Challenge Bias


One of the potential roadblocks to achieving an equitable work environment is bias. Often, while we may not even realise that there are certain stereotypes and biases which are entrenched so deeply in our belief system that consciously or subconsciously we tend to make decisions that are often coloured. In context to the workplace, bias may play a role during hiring, succession planning, performance management, promotions, etc. Many a time, organisations fail to provide equitable opportunities for advancement to their diverse hires that lead to the presence of diversity in low authority jobs, but the lack of it as one moves up the ladder. 


Likewise, in a hybrid setup, are we providing equal opportunities for career advancement to those who work from home versus those who work from office? Hence, it is very important to reduce bias during these engagements.


Fixing Pay Inequalities


Pay equity has been the buzzword for quite some time now and there have been growing voices calling for fixing pay inequalities at the workplaces. Pay equity essentially means that an individual’s race, gender, or ability should not influence the pay accorded to them. However, I believe that organisations need to think beyond the traditional lens and try to expand the scope of equity to roles also.


For example, why should someone in an enabling function be paid less than someone at the same level in a business function? The best way to ensure that organisations are paying fairly is to start with a pay equity audit which aims at identifying pay disparities and opportunities to improve equity.


Likewise, it is a great idea to benchmark your compensation practices with the external labour market and understand the gaps if any. Insights received from these audits and benchmarking can help you fix the inequality in pay.


Take Accountability


Creating an equitable workplace should not be wishful thinking and organisations need to set targets and show accountability. To create a culture that is truly inclusive and equitable, one needs to create big picture goals and measure progress with time.


For example, it may be a great idea to commit that a certain percentage of hires shall be from diverse groups or a certain percentage of the population shall be represented in the leadership roles. Setting targets, collecting data, and measuring the changes is crucial in this journey of creating an equitable workplace.


Devise Policies and Practices that Embrace Diversity


Simply saying that you are an equal opportunity employer may not be good enough of your policies do not enable people from diverse groups to find their feet and flourish in your organisation.


It is essential to revisit your people practices and policies to see that they are not leading to any unconscious bias in the minds of people and becoming a limiting factor to the sustenance and growth of a certain group.


Evaluating if your learning programmes are enabling people from diverse groups to become equal contenders to critical roles is another important element to consider. Diversity in thoughts and ethnicity may be a huge differentiator in today’s time when innovation and standing out from the crowd are critical to survival.


Building an equitable workplace is not just a ‘good-to-have’ aspect anymore as equitable workplaces not just are more profitable but are also a source of competitive advantage today. Leaders across the globe should make this a priority in 2021 and work towards fostering a workplace culture that is truly equal!



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