DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: With the pandemic now behind most organisations and markets in Southeast Asia, thought leadership in the HR space is turning to the question of what now? Many now expect a full-powered thrust toward pro-active diversity and inclusion policies across the majority of multinational workforces.
The US-based Boston College Center for Work and Family identifies five crucial diversity and inclusion lessons that organisations in the US should have taken out of the pandemic experience in that country. According to its paper: flexible work is the future, privilege is invisible to those who have it, mental health matters, interaction is important, and challenging biases is a commitment.
In light of the pandemic, it has become a necessity for individuals and organisations to practise inclusive leadership. At work, policies affect individuals in different ways based on their job classification, socio-economic status, living situation, immigration status, and ability to work virtually, any of which can perpetuate existing inequities.
Therefore, business leaders are urged to pay greater attention to developing, implementing, and evaluating diversity and inclusion strategies. A pre-pandemic study by Russell Reynolds Associates found that companies could only achieve real change if leaders role-modeled the ideal culture.
According to the study, this can be done in three key steps. Forming a diverse and inclusive boardroom that covers critical diversity issues on the board agenda, embedding diversity and inclusion into the organisation’s overall business strategy, and ensuring the senior management delivers tangible results in meeting diversity and inclusion targets across the business.
For Citrix Asia-Pacific Vice President and General Manager Parag Arora, the next step would be to sustain momentum and drive change through coaching or framing sessions for senior management. These are important for leaders to truly understand the concept of diversity and inclusion every step of the way, he says.
Arora also emphasises that since diversity and inclusion were evolving concepts, leaders could get confused or lost throughout the journey. That is why keeping leaders focused and connected with the entire diversity and inclusion agenda would help ensure that the company is on the right track.
Leaders must also set clear and concise metrics to evaluate their strategies’ effectiveness. Rachel Ong, CEO of learning and development consultancy ROHEI, says senior leaders must be responsible for recognising reality and acknowledging the organisation’s performance in terms of diversity and inclusion implementation. “I do feel that we need a reality check of where we are at and [then] we role model and drive the change that we want to see,” Ong says.
Read the full report here.