Diversity is the mix; inclusion is making the mix work. This quote says a lot about how creating a healthy interchange of diversity and inclusivity in organizations can lead to breaking the conscious and unconscious biases. For this year’s International Women’s Day, that’s what the theme #BreakTheBias underlines. It is about encouraging leaders to recognize and challenge inequality. It is about bringing the approach of empathy and collaboration into practice by setting aside age-old biases, and building an inclusive workplace that is critical for innovation and business success.
It’s all about building resilience through experience. The nuances of individual effort, their strengths, their perspectives and the impact they create on the work culture are intimately connected. Speaking about women at work and their contribution to the country’s growth, research states that at present, the women’s workforce participation rate in our country is at 20.3%, with 18.2% in Urban India. As per the statistics available, women’s employability is at 51.44 per cent for 2022, compared to 41.25 per cent in 2021.
Experts are also observing a surge in the women’s workforce, and that makes the matter of gender diversity and inclusion more sensitive than ever. Gender balance in workplaces is not a topic of discussion just on International Women’s Day. It needs to be an ongoing and conscious initiative at all times. International Women’s Day is a great platform to get organizations to commit to initiatives that will impact gender balance. It’s important to use the occasion to raise overall sensitivity. I see several people scoffing at IWD and think it is about pink roses, purple balloons and chocolates. Let not the superficial aspects cloud the strength of the platform. Celebrate the perspectives women bring to every aspect of the business.
Gender diversity is critical not just for women at all levels, but for every organization focused on innovation and customer-centricity. However, the implications of gender balance and the scarcity of the talent pool are felt more intensely at senior positions. Hence, it is every leader’s responsibility to create a work environment that helps women stake their rightful claim to senior roles, encourage their participation in decision-making levels, take an active interest in their career growth, provide them with platforms that help them showcase their talent create avenues for them to explore, learn, and give their ambition wings.
Want to know if a new business model is going to fly? Ask women, says Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley-based author, speaker, entrepreneur and evangelist, in his book ‘Art of the Start’. He goes on to say “It’s pure practicality … in a war for talent you don’t say, ‘okay half of you are not eligible. It’s so stupid, I can’t even express how strongly I feel about that.”
If entrepreneurs want to build successful organizations, they really need to focus on building teams that bring in rich and diverse perspective. Here are recommended diversity & inclusion parameters that organizations can consider and implement:
- Becoming a signatory to the UN Women Empowerment Principles.
- Enhancing business practices to foster equality at the workplace and among communities.
- Recognizing female leaders in the workplace and closing the perception gap.
- Providing exposure to a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and competencies.
- Establishing non-discriminatory practices and processes.
- Focusing on performance metrics rather than cast, creed, race, and colour.
- Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality.
In order to create opportunities for the women workforce to perform better, it’s critical to accommodate their diverse needs and working preferences to ensure they have fulfilling careers. Gender balance is not about token sim or affirmative action. It is about breaking deep-rooted biases even amongst the most educated and accomplished people – both men and women.
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