Organizations should not look at diversity and inclusion as a separate program. Rather, it should be built into the vision and mission of the organization
For centuries, workplaces have been of men, by men, for men. As women’s education changed and more and more women joined the workforce, things started changing slowly.
Sensitization about diversity and inclusion has catalyzed the change for better in recent years. Progressive organizations have adopted women-friendly policies. But unfortunately, all discourses about diversity and inclusion in organizations are still laden with the intent and specific policies towards this. Outcomes, if they are ever discussed, are all about number of women employees, and once in a while about number of women in senior positions.
In short, the workplaces of today have lot more of women, but they are, by and large, still for men—because they are by men. And that means, the journey is nowhere near its end.
And it is not because of any grand conspiracy against women by men. It is because of a simple reason: Diversity is not a specific strategy and a set of actions. It is a broader change. As one of the women IT leaders, quoted in our cover story says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Unless broader cultural change happens, things will NOT change the way we intend. And that requires sensitization, more than big strategy, even if backed by sincere intention.
Take, for example, a middle level manager who is planning his project team. If he knowingly excludes a woman who he knows will go on maternity leave, it is not because he is a misogynist, but because he wants to get his work done in the shortest possible time, with minimum resources. That cannot be held against him as an individual. The organization must step up and create an environment in which the metrics of his performance automatically take this into account.
This is just a small example. There are many such situations.
In fact, there are enough policies today in larger organizations. As our women IT leaders say, today the tasks at organizational levels are three fold. One, women must believe they can take charge and should proactively grab opportunities and talk about their success. Two, a vibrant women mentor-mentee environment should be created. Three, organizations should not look at diversity and inclusion as a separate program. Rather, it should be built into the vision and mission of the organization.
In addition, there is one societal change without which none of these will work out. That is—we men must change.