It is only in diversity can there be a better approach to crises, and it is only in inclusion that there can be a more concerted effort to be in any situation together. But in order to achieve this level of diversity and inclusion, one needs to be sensitized and trained to be more accepting of each other. And what better way to do this than implementing workshops for employees!
As we continue to redefine the ‘usual’ and highlight the positive undertones of working remotely with less commute time, greater flexibility and connecting from anywhere in the world, we have missed a vital aspect of workplace dynamics. When it comes to men and women feeling the impact of the pandemic, working mothers in particular have borne the worst of it. People with Disabilities (PwD) have felt the pain of not being employed as most professionals conveniently work from home - a reasonable demand they have been fighting for. Though the importance of a diverse workforce and the potential business gain cannot be stressed more, representation of women, PwDs and those from the LGBTQ+ community, in teams of higher management have been a long and slow road to success. But a crisis often proves to be an opportunity in disguise. Companies are now understanding the importance of infusing empathy in organization processes and many are doing this by conducting workshops for employees.
What Typical Gender Sensitization Workshops For Employees Should Entail
Appropriate way of addressing women peers, clients and support staff in offices
Facilitating transparent communication among men and women to highlight positive as well as discriminatory workplace practices
Empowering women to speak up when in uncomfortable and difficult situations
Additional training and development programs to help women graduate to higher management roles
Being Inclusive And Not Just Diverse
As Indian workplaces get populated with young and millennial work groups having broader and forward-looking perspectives, there is a gradual outlook shift in company campuses. Progressive companies naturally tend to understand contrarian views, encourage difference in opinions and develop a culture where people can speak without the fear of being misjudged. While diversity is a key differentiator at workplaces, it is inclusivity that makes all the real impact.
A sneak peek in Capegemini’s diversity content on its website underlines the thought, “My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible,” said Stella Young, an Australian comedian, journalist and disability rights activist. The quote largely showcases the condition of PwDs almost everywhere. With more than a billion employable people with disabilities globally and ~50million in India, imagine how companies can miss out on capitalizing on such a large talent pool if they exclude this population from their hiring policy! But things are definitely changing and India is taking the lead. Titan was the frontrunner when it championed the use of sign language to include those with speech and hearing impairments way back in the 1980s. Since then, the trend has caught on well with KFC and other brands following suit. This has boosted confidence among a oft-segregated section of our society and brought in positive discrimination and equality.
When it comes to changing mindsets around LGBTQ+ people, Godrej has been a pioneer. It instituted Godrej Culture Lab, an experimental space that picks social currents way ahead of its time. Picking up on Godrej’s open policies, companies are now including same-sex partner health benefits, networking and resource groups of LGBTQ+ people to inject respect and bring them into mainsteam company culture.
Companies Conducting Inclusivity-Led Training Workshops For Employees In India
Recruiting managers at Wipro are trained to use gender-neutral language during hiring calls.
Royal Bank of Scotland was the first bank in India to propagate the need for medical benefits to same-sex partners and offer surrogacy leave irrespective of the partner’s gender.
Kolkata-based Medica Superspecialty Hospital regularly hires and trains the transgender community and brings them ‘out’ in the open.
IBM trains and encourages employees to post video blogs on YouTube and speak about their experiences in work and outside.
What More Can Be Done
We have come a long way. From women being totally kept out of organized workforce, PWDs considered as incapable of doing any job to criminalizing same-sex love, there has been empowerment across all these factors. But in reality it is not enough, not until there is no discrimination against these sections of the general population. Sensitization workshops for employees and proactive internal communication campaigns do make a positive impact, and it needs to be done. Afterall, it is not just about attracting investor interest and maintaining a positive brand outlook, it is more about doing what is right and doing in a way that others follow suit.