Unlocking Innovation And Making Positive Impact Through Diversity

Growing diversity requires a culture in which employees feel comfortable and feel valued. Diversity stems from progressive leadership values ​​that provide a professional climate for success. In an inclusive merit-based organization, men and women are hired in equal, unchanging proportions.

Companies that do not want to hire women are losing the talents of half the population.

As a rule, a diverse workforce employs people from different backgrounds and backgrounds, accepts and absorbs differences without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, age and socio-economic status.

Diverse boards and directors bring a valuable range of views, opinions and suggestions for decision-making and problem-solving. In addition, diversity provides an opportunity to invite different perspectives and expand life experiences in the boardroom. And different perspectives provide a space for workable solutions when faced with complex problems.

The Companies Act 2013 says there should be at least one woman on the board. This allows you to explore these differences in a safe, positive and supportive environment.

Many European companies have not only stated their commitment to diversity and inclusion, but they have also implemented this strategy. For the record, leading companies in France, Spain, Sweden and the UK have an average of about 48 per cent women in the workplace. So where is India in this regard?
According to ESGRisk.ai on the data listed by Nifty 500 companies, in India an average of 22 per cent of women are in the workplace globally. While this is not a commendable figure, India ranks third in the world with 39 per cent in the diversity of women in senior management positions against a global average of 31 per cent.

The data also shows that financial services, IT, entertainment, publishing and the real estate industry have a wide variety of boards.

However, there are indications that diversity in certain sectors is being used as a simple tick to meet requirements or an inclusive culture is not strong enough. Industries such as beverage production, metal ore mining, crude oil and natural gas production, two-wheeled vehicles, crop production and animal husbandry have the potential to achieve more in this regard. At the moment, these sectors are facing problems in employment and security for women working with blue collars.

However, organizations that demonstrate exemplary leadership behavior open up awards for diversity. Long-term research shows that companies in the top quartile on gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry averages.

In contrast, companies in the lower quartile in these measurements are statistically less likely to achieve higher than average profits. A variety of companies are more likely to win the best talent and improve customer focus, employee satisfaction and decision making, leading to a virtuous cycle of increasing profits.

Diversity significantly improves financial performance on indicators such as profitable investments at the level of an individual portfolio company and the overall return on assets.

Creating a workplace that supports a diverse workforce is an excellent example of best practice in employee engagement and a positive culture. Employees know that their voice will be heard and that they are considered valuable members of the company.

Three Indian companies, Tech Mahindra, Wipro and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, were included in the Bloomberg Equality Index in 2020, which highlights the fact that Indian corporations are setting really high goals to improve inclusiveness and diversity at all levels.
Companies such as Axis Bank Ltd and Tata Steel Ltd have included policies and initiatives aimed at promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and LGBTQ (LGBTQ).
About 56 percent of these companies have disclosure of candidates with disabilities, although only 0.40 percent of them work with candidates with disabilities. In addition, companies such as ITC Hotels and Lemon Tree Hotels are leading employers for candidates with disabilities.

Undoubtedly, the schedule of diverse representation in companies is growing. Small regulatory action, such as aligning environmental, social and managerial (ESG) reporting with GRI standards and SDG goals along with specific steps by investors and stakeholders, can pave the way for improved diversity and inclusion in Indian companies.

Combining diverse experiences, adapting and exploiting differences fosters strong relationships between all stakeholders and allows them to be interconnected. Increased productivity, increased cultural awareness and an innovative talent pool are by-products of a deeply inclusive culture.

Employees or potential customers are more relevant to an organization when it is an inclusive workplace. As the saying goes, bring variety to one room and you will come out on the other side with better ideas and become an even better institution.

-Sankar Chakraborti, Chairman, CEO of ESGRisk.ai & Group, Acuité. The opinions expressed are personal

(Edited by: Ajay Vaishnau)

First published: IST

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