Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Next Level Inclusion - Two Business Imperatives

From the outside, it seems that the deep-seated cultural and business barriers for diversity and inclusion is a huge rock. This huge rock has been sedimented over years in the belief system of people and has been carried on for generations, with different layers inbuilt. When you scratch one layer, you are encountered with another layer of challenge.

To break this huge rock, we gather different tools (Initiatives, policies, KPI's), Bring in more resources (Employee Resource Groups(ERG’s), Volunteers), Gather force (Leadership involvement) and hit the rock as hard as we can at every angle possible, to realize that the more energy we use, the more resistance we encounter.  

But the stone must break someday, as H. Jackson Brown, Jr said: “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” 

The relentless stream of diversity and inclusion will find its place one day, and with the right set of Leadership, Culture, policies, and most importantly employees; the day will arrive much faster than anticipated.

Business Imperatives: A small dip stick survey into the leadership of top multinationals is sufficient to say, today’s leaders not only understand the usefulness of diversity; but also, thoroughly aware of the opportunity cost of not having diversity in an organizational setup. A good leader knows the financial, cultural and social cost of having/not having a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture within the organization.

Over the years, the layer of “Why Diversity & Inclusion?” seem to have been carved out by the relentless stream and moved to the layers of “What and How of diversity and inclusion?”

Two main layers have come to fore now:

1.      Inclusive Mindset
2.      Relevant pipeline and Meritocracy

1. Build an Inclusive Mindset:

  • Inclusion is no more about the central initiatives of the company. Inclusion is to do with our everyday culture.
  • This journey of progressive realization can start with the leaders using a gender-neutral language.
  • Messages are to be subtle but plentiful. Two minutes’ mention of the inclusive culture in an employee all hands by the business leader, goes a long way than 2-hour training program on Inclusion.
  • Employee resource groups(ERG’s) which work on overall inclusion runs longer and appreciated more than the ERG’s which cater to only specific gender or community.
  • Proactive policies and facilities provided by the company help individuals with different sexual orientation come forward with their identity and be comfortable with who they are.
  • If inclusion is a culture, then it is of prime importance to see if the culture has percolated to all the businesses of the organization. The game of averages where one business is at 50% diversity while a few others at 10% might not work. As the case with UBER, companies will one day find the loss of reputation at stake if they leave certain business out of this inclusive culture.

2. Build relevant pipeline:

 A hiring manager often than not chooses to hire a suitable candidate as soon as possible during an ever-increasing business demand.  While it is true that the business managers must be equipped with a mindset to look long term (w.r.t diversity and inclusion), the daily practical challenges for a manager is as much true. “Why let go of something good at hand, in an aspiration to find something I am not sure of?”

Building relevant, specific, proactive and most importantly credible pipeline, both internally and externally becomes important.  While the companies have concentrated on building internal women leaders for managerial and different technical positions. A clear gap exists between the generic skills and the specific skills required for the role.

 What more, all this must be achieved without faulting on the meritocracy. Inclusive environment means a level playing field with the same rules for everyone. The rules of the game remain the same, while the differences in skills, viewpoints, and abilities are what will create a most innovative culture we finally aspire for.

The End Game: The end game, however, is not to destroy the rock but to ensure that the rock and stream co-exist in complete harmony. The inclusion will happen when Men and Women let go of the race to become the superior gender and start relishing their differences. The inclusion will happen when a Gay or a Lesbian or a transgender can relish their differences without fear or humiliation. The inclusion will happen when disability is not met with scepticism but optimism. The inclusion will happen when each of us embraces the differences which others bring in and respect ourselves for what we are.

In fact, Inclusivity is not achieved by doing something, instead, the day when we find each of us feels comfortable with each other and think “I am ok”, “you are ok”, “We are ok”. The inclusion has happened.

This blog was first published in

Sunday, June 29, 2008

To be a better professional

1) The harvest come only in the long haul: Job satisfaction, Do you have that ? If you answer NO then, working towards your long term goal will give you a job satisfaction, you always aspired for. If you have too many choices before you then zero in on one and move towards it. No point in living someone else's dream.
We always try and find solution to get out of the situation we are in. I hate coding, IT industry has taken my self, I don't have free time and I am a looser in my personal life all these are an attempt to get out of thing which we don't love.
So, what to do, if my goal is not related to the industry am working in ?
You got to understand that the work you do now is essentially required to make you a better professional. Irrespective of what work you do, remember you are being molded as a professional.

2) Work Unsupervised - remember you are the system: You should be able to create your own work, structure it and deliver it with minimal supervision or none at all. The ability to work unsupervised and the ability to reach out and ask for help are the critical requirements of a professional. In a managerial language be proactive. You might have heard your manager use it many times :).

3) Think on Big. Act on Small: Remember you have been given a part of job which has been assigned to your boss. Keeping the big picture in mind will help you to get inline with the picture and construct a small deliverable in accordance. The ability to focus on today and moving towards tomorrow is an uncommon quality that is a pre-requisite for a better professional.

4) Things do not work as per plan -- do not get flustered: They do not work as planned, do they ? You wake up in the morning planning to finish the work assigned to you by 6:30 pm and moving to a movie. With enthusiasm you start your work to find you need your peer's help who is not in his seat :) . Then your boss calls you and asks you to finish some adhoc work, which you had not anticipated. While you were busy doing that work your peer would have come and gone telling he will meet you at 6:00 pm.

At 7:00 as you plan to move out of office, your boss interjects to remind that you have not yet finished the work assigned to you yesterday!!!!!. Looks similar to your own experience ?
As things fail to happen per plan, there is an inevitable period of confusion and self-doubt. To change rapidly is also a important characteristic of a professional.
5) Be Self-Confident:
Every organisation needs them(self confident people) and needs them badly. People who know that irrespective of the outcome, at a personal level they will emerge rich in experience. This is the important trait to be a better proffesional. Just observe, you will find people with this trait excelling in getting more oppurtunities and appreciation from your managers. No matter how good you are you got to display your confidence to excel in a work place and climb up a corporate ladder. This is where many of us flounder, and give way to the people who know how to maintain their equanimity.
Remember if you are not depending on your confidence then you are actually depending on someone else's confidence.
Is depending on others confidence better ?

Be a better professional, follow the five rules

1) The harvest come only in the long haul
2) Work Unsupervised - remember you are the system
3) Think on Big. Act on Small.
4) Things do not work as per plan -- do not get flustered
5) Be Self-Confident

All the best ........... Let me know if this article was worth reading (Comments are welcome).

Next Level Inclusion - Two Business Imperatives

From the outside, it seems that the deep-seated cultural and business barriers for diversity and inclusion is a huge rock. This huge ...