We are going through an era of profound cultural change. Through social media, battles are being fought for gender equality, inclusion, and fair treatment of diversity. Companies cannot ignore this ongoing revolution because today’s labor market is very competitive, and those who think they can do otherwise risk losing resources and talent. But let’s see how diversity management and global inclusion strategies generate a twofold benefit: they make resources feel comfortable and improve brand awareness.
What do we mean by diversity, equity, and inclusion in business?
Today, more and more companies are approaching diversity management, promoting inclusion policies that respect the diversity present in the working environment. It is necessary to go beyond the unconscious prejudices that often guide the selection phase of resources to achieve this.
To understand exactly what we are talking about, it is useful to define these terms. So as to avoid the confusion arising from the common denominator that binds them: we all deserve the same treatment. It’s true, in principle, that’s what we’re talking about, but nuances, never more than in this case, make all the difference.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): training and technology will accelerate the social inclusion of resources in companies. Click To Tweet
What is meant by Diversity?
When we talk about diversity, we are referring to those characteristics that distinguish and make human beings unique: race, sexual orientation, gender identity, income, language, age, marital status, but also different mental abilities or physical disabilities. In the world of work, diversity should not be a yardstick but should be treated for what it is: personal data. Because often what may appear to be disadvantages or disabilities encourage people to enhance other equally functional and productive aspects.
What is meant by Equity?
Let us now turn to the definition of equity. When you enter an Italian courtroom, the first thing you see written in large letters near the judge’s desk is “the law is the same for everyone,” the highest expression of human rights equality. But just as in the legislative field, we are still far from equal treatment, so, in companies, the fair treatment of resources has not yet been achieved. In technological or IT contexts, a strong disparity in treatment is evident between men and women.
Going back to unconscious prejudices, there is still a tendency today to look with suspicion at a woman who talks about Artificial Intelligence, predictive maintenance, or energy efficiency. As if these topics were comprehensible only to the male gender. Probably this happens because for many years, the studies, which led to this type of preparation, were attended, for the most part, by men. Today, it’s enough to enter an engineering faculty to realize that even this preconception is unfounded.
What is meant by Inclusion?
The definition of inclusion is not so much about a person’s characteristics or abilities but rather the ability of organizations to create a supportive environment that encompasses all diversity. A place that puts resources at ease with purpose-built programs to enable even the least able to hold prestigious positions and aspire to professional growth.
How can we accelerate the path to social inclusion in the company?
Whether it’s gender, race, or related to individual abilities, diversity is a value to the company. A team of resources with different approaches or characteristics has a strong creative attitude. And today, it is precisely new ideas that generate economic growth. The first step in talking about Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Management, i.e. the inclusion of diversity in the company and its fair treatment, is to overcome prejudices, stereotypes, and misconceptions.
We need to be aware that some preconceptions are ingrained in ourselves. No matter how much we seem to share ideas of equality in behavior, we cannot always be neutral. Reaching full awareness of this helps us to put in place a series of actions that counteract unconscious reactions. Once past this stage, leaders and managers need to work on two fronts: training and technology.
Training: investing in the capabilities of resources
The theoretical and practical study of DEI management techniques in the company is essential to ensure decent and sustainable work for all resources. Especially when it comes to cognitive diversity, for a resource to feel fully integrated into the work environment, it is important to create an ad hoc training path. In this way, the candidate will be able to achieve similar results to the other resources engaged in the department and, in addition, increase the level of self-confidence.
The training is not only for people whose diversity could become a barrier to job inclusion but also for the team in which they will be placed. An example might be the case of hiring a deaf-mute in a factory. For those who will have to work closely together, it is helpful to know the basics of sign language so that they can interact with the resource.
Technology: investing in digital support for work
In the era of Digital Transformation, many technologies could offer support to people with different cognitive abilities, allowing a complete integration in the company. Robotic Process Automation, for example, offers valuable support in simple tasks with a high risk of error and could be programmed to compensate for a resource’s difficulties. At the same time, Artificial Intelligence could help those who have difficulty reading or writing documents through the use of voice commands or a virtual assistant.
A similar discussion applies to gender diversity. We are only recently seeing the presence of women in factories. Thanks to robots and automation, it has been possible to open up recruitment to women in sectors that, requiring significant physical strength, were the exclusive preserve of men. Once the physical barriers have collapsed, it remains to knock down the conceptual ones that today have no reason to exist.
The path to successful inclusion
Leaders who want to embark on a journey of inclusion and fair treatment will need to implement and plan for a change in human resource management systems and practices. Only then will they be able to harness the full potential of diversity.
A path to inclusion should start with the job ad. We should think of the text that encourages candidates with intellectual or identity diversity to choose our company because they know they can feel comfortable. Once they join the company, they should receive adequate training and be followed by mentors who know how to enhance their qualities and provide them with tools to overcome difficulties. The next step is to make the resources part of the team they will work with by training the entire group to ensure optimal integration.
You will only get a real boost in innovation if you understand how important it is to work on improving the corporate culture. Nipping in the bud prejudices and attitudes of superiority among employees and promoting small actions of inclusion and valuing diversity. The homologation has never generated winning ideas; instead, diversity is the true sap of the creative process.
It must also be remembered that Diversity Equity & Inclusion objectives, to be truly effective, must be measurable and quantifiable. That’s why it’s critical to think about a real underlying strategy and monitoring of the end results. In general, if employees feel uncomfortable or, worse, suffer even psychological harassment, they will leave your organization. On the other hand, a supportive environment will welcome talent and improve your company’s reputation.