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Business News/ Industry / Human Resource/  All you need to know about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in today’s workplaces
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All you need to know about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in today’s workplaces

The Union Budget's annual Gender Budget Statement, initiated in 2005-06, reflects this growing focus, expanding from 14 to 38 ministries by 2024-25

To promote DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging), organisations must prioritise listening to employees, understanding their needs, and aligning benefits accordingly (iStock)Premium
To promote DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging), organisations must prioritise listening to employees, understanding their needs, and aligning benefits accordingly (iStock)

In today's fiercely competitive and ever-evolving work landscape, the emphasis on inclusion and diversity has reached unprecedented levels. Indian firms now recognize that employee well-being is integral to corporate success, with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives emerging as key drivers of social well-being within organisations.

The Union Budget's annual Gender Budget Statement, initiated in 2005-06, reflects this growing focus, expanding from 14 to 38 ministries by 2024-25. With a 28% increase in female enrolment in higher education over a decade, gender diversity takes centre stage, signalling progress towards inclusivity and empowerment.

Global Capability Centres (GCCs) play a pivotal role in advancing DEI, with potential to spearhead India's mission for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sun Life Global Solutions (SLGS), a leading GCC, is committed to fostering an inclusive environment, championing equal access to opportunities, and enhancing workforce diversity.

“Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging are important elements of not only a harmoniously functioning organisation but also our society at large. Our belief is that embracing DEI&B in the workplace inspires creativity, fosters innovation and drives values. It’s not a destination, but a direction forward for us at SLGS. Our focus is not just making our company policies and programmes more inclusive but on creating meaningful everyday experiences as we embrace belonging. We run various surveys as well as connect with our employees to seek their insights and inputs to evolve together in our DEI&B journey. We then implement initiatives and programs that demonstrate our commitment to promoting DEI&B within our organisation. Our initiatives hinge on creating a trusted brand to attract, develop and retain top notch talent, and being aligned with purpose and business strategy and ultimately success as a company to be able to create client impact," says Pooja Mehtani, General Counsel, Sun Life Global Solutions.

To promote DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging), organisations must prioritise listening to employees, understanding their needs, and aligning benefits accordingly. Creating diverse and inclusive environments unlocks opportunities for varied perspectives to drive collective progress.

The broader question for firms today is defining DEI — is it solely about boosting female representation? DEI extends beyond that, aiming for social justice, equality, and inclusive environments where diversity is celebrated, equity is ensured, and inclusion is standard. GCCs, with their diverse workforce from various backgrounds, facilitate collaboration and innovation. Embracing this diversity is vital for nurturing an inclusive workplace culture.

On DEI implementation at SLGS, Pooja says: “Last year was a year of many "firsts" in SLGS from a DEI perspective. We are expanding the definition of diversity beyond gender – generational diversity, acquired diversity, and hiring PwD in India. We are also revisiting some policies, designing sponsorship and leadership programs for women, setting up a DEI council, broadening DEI to include belonging, and there’s so much more. At SLGS, we are building a culture that truly inspires continuous learning and strengthens our collective potential and leadership through empowerment. Some of the departmental engagement programs at SLGS are the Employee Resource Groups, to champion and support our DE&I initiatives. These groups provide safe spaces for employees with shared backgrounds, experiences, or interests. They play a vital role in fostering inclusion, raising awareness, and driving positive change within the organisation. Leadership Programmes equip our leaders with the necessary awareness and skills to be more inclusive in their leadership styles. Additionally, we have implemented programmes such as STRIDE, L.E.A.P and Sunrise specifically designed for women leaders. We are integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) commitments into crucial talent practices and decisions with our Talent practices Integration. This ensures that DE&I considerations are embedded in across talent management process including recruitment, promotion and performance evaluation."

Initiatives often falter if firms don't cultivate a sense of Belonging among employees — feeling valued, respected, and part of a bigger picture. Activities fostering this belonging unleash the true potential of diverse individuals at work.

“Employee Resource Groups can become an integral part of DEI&B initiatives. At SLGS, SunStree (an Employee Resource Group for women) was launched in 2022 as a a platform to create a strong network for our women employees. This platform is focused on identifying and addressing workplace challenges faced by women, providing developmental opportunities for their advancement, and creating an open and interactive learning space. Additionally, SunStree also emphasises the health and well-being of women employees. Expanding the definition of diversity we have expanded ERGs with WomenInTech and WorkingFamilies to advance inclusion with collaborative efforts of 8 ERGs across SLGS," says Pooja.

While India's female labour force participation has risen, challenges persist, with the country ranking 135th in the Global Gender Gap Index. However, initiatives like SEBI's mandate for women representation on corporate boards signal progress. Globalisation has also expanded opportunities, transcending geographical boundaries for talent acquisition.

DEI&B is not just a destination but a continuous journey towards building inclusive workplace cultures that unleash the full potential of diverse talent. Through concerted efforts and commitment, organisations can drive societal change and pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive future.

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Published: 22 Feb 2024, 10:39 PM IST
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