Why Inclusion Matters!

This paradigm shift combined with expectations of diverse groups and customers is pushing organizations to revisit their work culture.

Diversity of various hues are a given. Various studies have shown that diversity fosters innovation. But would it really help in innovation if the mix doesn’t work? Making the mix work is key to being a game-changer. The culture of the company would define whether the mix will work or not. Great cultures are intentional – it would be the point of focus of the values, vision, mission and importantly, in the strategy of the organization. The culture of the company is driven as much by what is visible as what is not visible- thousands of unseen actions that drive values and behaviors. The resilience of the company to respond to any change would be driven by how the whole company thinks and not just the management…
Today’s world is in a constant state of flux -political, social, economic factors contribute to making the world highly unpredictable. Higher life expectancy coupled with an emerging digital way of life can have a varied impact depending on the ability to adapt to the new changes. In this mix are the millennials, whose motivations are varied. The connected world means no part of the world is remote – the world is watching!

This paradigm shift combined with expectations of diverse groups and customers is pushing organizations to revisit their work culture – what are the key imperatives that will help foster creativity and innovation by unleashing the potential of their employees. The organizations that build an inclusive culture by fostering diversity will be more successful.

At times one questions – Is it a matter of strategy or common sense; a matter of tough decision or smart decision; a matter of must-have or nice to have; a matter of executive leadership’s action item or every manager’s action item; a matter of willingness or a dictate? Recently, during a discussion about women in the workforce, an interesting thought came in. While questioned why you do not have a woman in the top leadership roles, the response was “we tried but it did not work out “. The response to this would be – would you say we tried with men and it did not work out? This inherent bias that it may not work out by the top leadership will cascade down to the last associate.

Inclusion is and always will be a big challenge as it is a very individual mindset. It is very difficult to get a true measure. In today’s world, the reason there is a regression in inclusive behavior– the thought process is not part of the psyche but being politically correct. As such whenever we have situations where few groups are favored over others, it will have draw support.

Inclusion today is a big challenge. It has been brilliantly put in HBR article – Invited for the party but not to the dance. The metrics of measuring diversity gives rise to the concept of having token representation and looking good. The invitation is half-baked and hence they are not dancing in the party but standing on the sidelines. The company culture with the vision of its leadership percolated down to the lowest common denominator would decide whether all people are dancing and just not invited to make the numbers

About the Author: AparnaPathak is the Diversity & Inclusion Council Lead at Novartis, India. If you have any queries w.r.t the article, you can reach her at Aparna-1.pathak@novartis.com.