The advantages of Inclusion and Diversity cannot be overemphasised. It is a critical theme in terms of business success, innovation, progression, expansion and last but definitely not the least, the individual and collective health of Society.
The advantages of Inclusion and Diversity cannot be overemphasised. It is a critical theme in terms of business success, innovation, progression, expansion and last but definitely not the least, the individual and collective health of Society. Workplaces that are diverse are also the most successful because in diverse settings a host of opinions are shared, challenges are viewed through different lenses and more creative solutions emerge than can in homogonous workplaces.
People are Different Yet Equally Able
Stereotypes are used by some people to help make sense of the world. Stereotyping people is usually a bad idea because it leads to poor outcomes. People should first and foremost be treated as individuals because, in daily life, individuals interact with individuals and not with an entire ethnic group, an entire religion, or with everyone of a single gender. Consider that while there are stereotypes of what an ideal leader should look like i.e. a leader is mostly imagined as above average in height and of a wholesome appearance, many great leaders do not fit this mold.
The Dominant Narrative
Women in the Indian workforce are still viewed as secondary workforce. While there are a number of women in leadership positions in Indian companies, it is still a small number. Most Indian companies are led by men. However, ever so gradually the dominant narrative with respect to women in the workplace is changing. More women today are employed in occupations that had earlier been reserved for men such as in the armed forces. In 2018 India got its first women fighter pilot; an achievement as many fit and aspiring men are found unsuited for this demanding job.
Regardless of women’s participation in a more diverse range of jobs across the country and their substantial role in helping India win sports accolades, many women today are viewed to be ideal for soft roles rather than for careers that demand tremendous drive and dedication. Thought of as nurturers, women are considered ideal for roles in the human resources departments where their nature is expected to flourish. However, Kiran Muzamdar Shaw, the chairperson and managing director of Biocon, is just one of many Indian women who’ve shattered the glass ceiling and thrived in traditionally male-dominated roles.
The Need for Inclusion
As the world grows increasingly complex, it will also become more difficult to make sense of as well. A little over 10 years ago, during the last financial crisis which almost no economist was able to predict, leading economists stated that the world’s economic system has grown too complex for anyone to understand. Greater diversity in the workplace and in key positions where a diverse range of viewpoints facilitate examination of existing challenges is perhaps the only way to foresee challenges. Diversity in the workplace is not only the best way to foresee challenges; it is also the best way to take advantage of untapped opportunities.
The multibillion-dollar Indian BPO industry was created because creative Indian leaders employed with an MNC realized that Indians could do what was done by those in developed countries just as well and at a fraction of the cost of those in developed countries. Had that MNC not been open to opinions from diverse individuals, it would not have been able to take advantage of the highly-skilled English speaking populace of India that has, since the turn of the century, transformed the global BPO industry and created hundreds of thousands of new jobs in India and overseas.
However, there Exists a Dominant Narrative, For Now…
The dominant narrative that exists in India creates a lens through which many in society not only view others but also themselves. A doctor is expected to have good awareness while a college professor may be absent-minded and be considered perfectly within the acceptable range of behaviour. As new jobs, which did not exist a decade ago, emerge, those who perform such jobs will need to adopt a behaviour that had been unknown in decades past. For instance, according to Stanford Professor and neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky, in the future, there may be people who work as neural marketers.
According to Robert Sapolsky, a neural marketer’s job would be to create sensations in consumers’ minds that precisely excite their neural network, thereby increasing sales of a particular product. A neural marketer must not only have knowledge of marketing but also a specialized degree in medicine because he or she will be required to use expertise in both to create demand for products. Other experts including Yuval Noah Harari, whose books have been recommended by Bill Gates and Barak Obama among others, believes that for the first time in history, we have no idea what kinds of jobs will exist just 3 to 4 decades in the future. Certainly, there is no better time than today to reshape and dismantle the existing dominant narrative in society to prepare its members for the future.
(By Dr. Niru Kumar, Founder and D & I Consultant, Ask Insights)