Celebrating BYOD (Bring Your Own Diversity) at GE - GiftAbled

Celebrating BYOD (Bring Your Own Diversity) at GE

You do not have to fit in to belong - express your whole self…be unique, be weird, be awesome. This is the idea that defines BYOD (Bring Your Own Diversity) at GE – our effort to celebrate individuality and inclusion. Inclusion is a shared commitment of all. We call it WoW (Way of Work) .

Our Way of Work journey started with a focus on gender balance and, over time, has evolved to encompass differences in ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and, as an overarching theme, a focus on inclusive behaviour. Rather than segmenting people based on their differences, our efforts are focused on creating a culture where every employee proudly brings their whole self to work and is enabled through the structure, policies, systems & facilities, to achieve their best.

We have consciously influenced the following strategic levers to increase diversity and cultivate an inclusive working environment for all.

(i) Framing inclusive policies, processes, and practices Highlights of proactive changes to policies and practices include same-sex partner declaration in medical insurance and relocation, enabling people with disability to avail of car lease benefits in case of a modification of existing cars on account of disability. We also ensure objectivity through our hiring, development and retention processes with the use of gender-neutral JDs, data-driven approach to identifying retention drivers and growth potential, as well as and the curation of experience based on individual preferences.

(ii) Creating and sustaining inclusive communities, programs, and initiative We have a host of networks, including the People with Disabilities Network, Women’s Network, the LGBT+ Ally Network, HealthAhead, GE Volunteers, Bangalore Newcomers’ Club, etc., specialized counseling offerings for employees and people managers specific to maternity and return to work post maternity and in the areas of gender identity, expression and sexual orientation.

(iii) Setting up inclusive physical infrastructure Important steps to ensure inclusive physical infrastructure involve our efforts for accessibility from the facilities and IT perspectives, on-campus mobility, gender-neutral restrooms and opportunities for work-life integration through an on-campus daycare and a parent-child room.

(iv) Building inclusive mindsets through sensitization for all (leadership sensitization & commitment and employee sensitization) We believe that leaders play an important role in leading the inclusion agenda by example and inclusivity is a core leadership behavior. Leaders are accountable for ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard, opinions are considered and value to the team is evident. As part of our People Review process, we ensure that leaders reflect on their everyday behaviors and how they can become better inclusion champions. We also engage in social experiments and exercises to uncover unconscious bias and sensitize employees to identify micro-behaviors that create an inclusive work environment. We believe there is much more to individuals than the roles they do. Our everyday behavior at work offers rich opportunities to identify and challenge our own assumptions and practice commitments to inclusion that over time, become a habit. Through our sensitization efforts, we have used typical samples of such everyday behaviour – team meetings, conversations, humour to embed and reinforce inclusive behaviour as a habit. Creating a ‘BYOD’ environment for psychological safety and authentic self-expression is the ultimately goal of our Way of Work.

About the Author - Soniya Dabak (from the Way of Work Team at GE)