Thursday, March 30, 2023

A Practical and Measurable Approach to Creating a Gender-Balanced Workplace

Organizations around the world understand the need for diversity and are putting in efforts to create a more inclusive workplace. However, programs designed to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace often fail. For example, most organizations still struggle with unconscious biases interfering with recruitment decision-making – even those with the most sophisticated recruitment technologies in place.

We recently launched our very first Women at Work Survey 2021– A D&I Benchmarking Study and found the greatest barrier as to why the D&I efforts aren’t working contributes to:

  • The general attitude of indifference
  • A sense that the workforce is sufficiently diverse
  • Insufficient mentoring for non-traditional employees

Recently, People Matters conducted a virtual panel discussion to brainstorm on the outcome-based actions that you will take today to accelerate the movement of the gender equality needle. The conversation which led by Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, People Matters along with our special panelists- Carine Rolland, People & Culture Leader- APAC, ManpowerGroup, Maria Teixidor, CEO, VUCA Solutions, and Shraddhanjali Rao, Head HR – SAP, India, addressed a series of themes and topics like:

  • Assessing and including your D&I big rocks into your business planning
  • Establishing goals and accountability with KPI-driven D&I targets
  • Getting the right tools and strategy to promote more women into leadership roles
  • Rethinking men’s ability to lead organizations towards a gender-balanced workforce
  • Reorganizing teams at work to facilitate gender-balanced organizations

The experts came together and weighed in on how organizations can make women thrive in the workplace, as well as how they can get more women in leadership, how they can attract, retain and leverage top talent to cultivate a more diverse workforce, create more male allies in the workforce, and some of the key lead indicators of a gender-balanced workplace– promotions & succession planning, HIPO programs, salary reviews, etc. Based on their inputs, here are key reflections for organizations on approaching and actually moving the needle in the right direction.

Gender equality needs to organization’s core strategy than a CSR strategy

We are in the middle of a global shift where we are becoming aware of the fact that organizations play a huge role not only in delivering value to the shareholders but also in constructing the society they operate in. And the organizations need to be aware of the shift that has been brought about by the various inequality that is present in the societies. One of the points that have been stated in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is Gender Equality which says, Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

Organizations (Employers) need to recognize the fact that we need to embrace D&I which is more than a CSR strategy but a core strategy that creates a gender-balanced workplace, and hence, more gender-balanced societies.

Why haven’t we able to tick the D&I clock?

According to the latest findings of a report by McKinsey, many employees have considered organizations’ inclusiveness while making career decisions, yet almost half of all respondents do not feel very included at their organizations. Most respondents, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation, say they encounter barriers to a sense of inclusion.

Why haven’t been able to make a shift?

Shraddhanjali Rao, Head HR – SAP, India and the author of ‘ Why blend in when you can stand out?” touch upon the five barriers to achieving a gender-balanced workplace.

  • Cascading D&I maturity across levels:

The business case for diversity & inclusion started with CSR and then it moved to achieve business value, however, only among the top leadership. We haven’t been able to cascade the story of ROI into a meaningful conversation.

For example, we still try to convince leaders that if I hire diversely, I will be able to retain better. Organizations haven’t been able to move that equation to innovation which is where the curve goes out of the graph.

  • Mid-management is your linchpin to D&I efforts

To a very large extent, we believe that D&I is the prerogative of HR and the top leader or CXOs in the organization. Your linchpin is your mid-management and your first-level management. As an organization, we have known them as professionals and we have not invested enough. And that’s where our weakest link is because for our employees’ diversity and inclusion is an everyday matter and adjust a one day like that you celebrate like Women’s Day. It’s their everyday experiences and we have to step up an investment that not only goes into leadership but at all levels.

  • Lack of due diligence before adopting any ‘best practice’

As HR folks, we really get excited when we hear about best practices. However, before we take it back to the organization and implement it, we should spend time understanding what is the problem. While the challenge may be the same– retention of women in mid-management across two industries, you have to peel that onion a little bit. Due diligence is required before we adopt practices as that is what is going to make it a best practice.

  • Look at lagging indicators:

Our view of tracking practices is extremely backward-looking as we basically measure how we landed at the end of the year. It’s not a very enjoyable experience because you don’t know where you’re landing. And hence, it is critical to measure leading indicators and not just lagging indicators. You need to have milestones where you will measure progress and behavior, and not just the output.