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22/03/2018 12:14 PM IST | Updated 22/03/2018 12:20 PM IST

What Truly Inclusive And Diverse Organizations Do Differently

Hint: Intentions don’t guarantee success.

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My previous article talked about why an organization which successfully attracts, welcomes and integrates individuals across myriad demographic spectra makes business sense.

Even organizations which need no convincing on this point are able to implement the diversity agenda with varying degrees of success. The yardstick I use to categorize an organization as truly inclusive or otherwise is a simple one: A resounding, unequivocal "YES" to the following 3 questions

Is everyone represented?

With the best of intentions, most organizations end up creating demographic concentrations in certain parts of the organization. There are organizations where the only black faces I have seen are at the reception or among foremen at the shop floor. Yet others end up creating gender ghettos in functions like HR which have an overrepresentation of women. Truly inclusive organizations have a more diverse mix all across.

Yet others end up creating gender ghettos in functions like HR which have an overrepresentation of women.

Is everyone integrated?

Do ethnic minorities tend to stay in your company for as long as the rest? Are members of the LGBT community as engaged as the rest of the organization? There's a plethora of research to show that most organizations are far more successful in recruiting women than in facilitating their growth within the organization. Truly inclusive organizations ensure a level playing field and successful integration of employees from all backgrounds.

There's a plethora of research to show that most organizations are far more successful in recruiting women than in facilitating their growth within the organization.

Does it show?

If your organization is able to get the above right, it should reflect in your sales, revenue, profitability and growth numbers. If you need to look for the first hint that not all is right with your diversity program, look there. They will give you all the clues you need

READ: The 'Business Case' For Creating A More Diverse And Inclusive Company

What do truly inclusive organizations do differently?

They don't try too hard

Some of the most inclusive organizations I know don't run formal initiatives directed at diversity. Most leaders in these organizations tell me that their focus is more on ensuring that the company's systems and processes are designed to eliminate conscious and subconscious bias and that the norms are enforced rigorously. A charity that I worked with in the UK ran their recruitment ads through all ethnic groups among their employees and sought their views on the media to air the advertisements. This was meant to ensure that their image as a potential employer was consistent across all ethnic groups.

Some of the most inclusive organizations I know don't run formal initiatives directed at diversity.

They are, nevertheless, obsessed with diversity

According a senior leader in one of these organizations: "We are constantly watching over our backs and questioning ourselves on if that is bias at play". The leadership in these organizations has an almost obsessive interest in ensuring that:

  1. They set the right personal example in creating an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, valued and respected.
  2. All processes and systems reflect the intent.
  3. The ergonomics of the workplace is inclusive of people of all capability.

They put the individual first

Talented individuals often become prisoners of stereotypes, both positive and negative. While you may think that the former is an unqualified blessing, all it should take to dispel that myth is talk to that woman colleague of yours weighed down with the expectation of being the harmonizer in a cantankerous group.

Truly inclusive organizations allow individuals' capabilities, personalities and viewpoint to find full expression. Being viewed as a member of an ethnic, religious, sexual or gender group often comes in the way

To these organizations, the individual isn't the token black face or the token member of the LGBT community but the skills and talents by virtue of which they hold their position

Truly inclusive organizations allow individuals' capabilities, personalities and viewpoint to find full expression.

They have strong institutional guardrails

Without exception, these organizations have zero tolerance for deviation from rules. These organizations invariably aim for standards decidedly higher than mere statutory compliance with regard to not only rules directly linked to inclusion (Prevention of Sexual Harassment, for example) but also compliance with the Code of Conduct, Quality Policy, Conflict of Interest Rules or Customer Policy

It's simple. Failure of the diversity agenda in any organization has one root cause; inconsistent enforcement of rules. If rules are selectively enforced in one area, nothing can stop the malaise from spreading

They call BS on Cultural Relativism

The diversity agenda is never furthered through apology. The organization's values and cultural norms are paramount and every individual is expected to comply. There are no excuses, regardless of who one is.

The diversity agenda is never furthered through apology.

They believe that diversity adds to, doesn't subtract from a meritocratic culture

The diversity agenda of the most inclusive organizations is not focused on selectively hiring and promoting people from demographic groups but in ensuring that all factors which impede inclusion- conscious and subconscious bias or lack of infrastructural support- are eliminated

This itself ensures that they have a vibrant, diverse mix of talent across the organization. Does it help? The results tell their own story.

(The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of HuffPost India. Any omissions or errors are the author's and HuffPost India does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.)

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