Diversity and inclusion, though often mentioned together, are two different processes. A team can be diverse, but if its members do not have an inclusive mindset, it is unlikely that they will succeed as a group. Companies need to create opportunities for everyone to voice their needs, thoughts, and concerns to foster an inclusive culture.
Through our webinar, ‘How equality, diversity & inclusion can drive business forward’, we explored current debates on ED&I and discussed strategies businesses can use to implement ED&I in the workplace. We spoke to – among others – Yolanda Umpiérrez Alvarez, Services Enabler and Projects Lead at Accenture, Ivan Janković, People and Culture Delivery Manager IKEA South-East Europe at IKEA Group, Tudor Havriliuc, Former Vice President HR at Facebook and Doina Filip, Head of Reward & HR Budget at ORANGE Romania. Find the highlights of our conversation below.
What does inclusion look like and how can companies foster it in their workplaces?
Yolanda Umpiérrez Alvarez: I’d like to start with a short story that I think will illustrate the answer to that question beautifully. Recently we had a new member joining us on the team who is transgender. I went home and shared the news with my family and I guess I was expecting some sort of reaction to this because it is not something that happens every day. But my son, who is 15, just said: “Mom, why are you sharing as if it was great news? I have quite a few classmates, who are either transgender bisexual or lesbian”. I could not be prouder of my son for saying that because I could notice the respect he felt for his classmates. His comment made me think about how the world is changing and how companies need to catch up with the younger generation when it comes to attitudes to inclusion and diversity. It’s an ongoing process and every organisation is at a different place in its ED&I journey. That being said, companies must have specific goals for creating a diverse and inclusive culture and a way to measure their progress.
How can we facilitate intergenerational conversations where the younger generation is mentoring the senior one on inclusion?
Ivan Jankovic: I think the first step to creating an inclusive culture to create an environment where everybody feels welcome and where people feel they can share their opinions and perspectives. It is true that the new generations joining companies have different needs and outlooks than the previous generations and that companies need to accommodate that. At the same time, it is wise for them to remember that there are still employees with more traditional needs, which should also be respected.
Yolanda Umpiérrez Alvarez: I think that having discussion groups or forums where people can openly share their thoughts and needs is a good place to start. Their thoughts can then flow through the entire organisation which increases awareness at all levels. At Accenture, we have employee resource groups designed to bring people together to share and highlight their needs. Employees talk to their local HR points of contact, who organise these groups. The HR teams are crucial in this situation because they are in permanent touch with our teams and employees so they help us drive this change.
Doina Filip: At Orange, we also have a dedicated space online where employees can exchange ideas and conversations about ED&I. We have dedicated programs and groups and lots of resources. But I think it is vital that we do not force awareness upon people when it comes to inclusion. The aim should not be to push people to have these conversations and to express their needs. The main message a company should express is that we are all different and that that is a strength. We can only work to create an open atmosphere but an inclusive culture needs to grow naturally.