Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion – It starts from within

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Equality, Diversity & Inclusion – It starts from within

In a women’s webinar held this August, Employer branding agency Universum Global shared insights from its 2019 D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) Report and hosted a discussion on the effect of equality, diversity and inclusion on human capital. Pabi Mogosetsi, Country Manager at Universum SA, shares some of the eye-opening insights that emerged.

 “Our world is changing. And creating an inclusive environment is beneficial on more levels than many may realise. Besides the basic need for representation, inclusion is a driver of progress and innovation. In our current context, the employment landscape has been reinvented out of necessity, and employers are becoming increasingly aware of the need for a progressive and workable EVP (Employee Value Proposition), which is becoming essential to retaining talent. Inclusiveness is an invaluable component of a good EVP, as it helps engender a sense of belonging for every staff member, regardless of their race, gender, religion, culture, age or orientation. 

“As South African businesses serve a diverse population, made up of many cultures, representation on the inside fosters first-hand understanding of the market. In terms of legislation, South Africa is far ahead of most countries in ensuring that diversity and inclusion exists, due to its employment equity policies. At their core, however, organisations function like a living organisms, due to us having to nurture our ecosystems and ensure that there is a balance from within the organisation. In the bigger picture, this increases the quality of employee interactions and creates a greater standard on how everyone should behave towards each other. 

“Beyond legislation, we need to bring the ‘human’ back into Human Capital or Human Resources. The basis of all of this is leading with humanity first and then growing from within. Where the physical distance between ourselves and our colleagues is more of a factor than ever before, we as employers should be more intentional about inclusiveness – and that is about more than just meeting government standards. 

“It begins with breaking down silos. And this is particularly challenging during a pandemic. We can be our own worst enemies and create these silos because we’re often working in physical isolation. We need to be more mindful and intentionally open to learning from each other. 

“Organisations are naturally made up of diverse groups of individuals. And in order to do well in our market, we need to recognise that each of these individuals has something unique to offer. When these individuals pool their ideas, experience and resources, regardless of departmental or job description limitations, the organisation can work smarter, targeting its market more effectively and creating internal brand affinity, because every employee’s input matters. 

“Dissolving silos and building an inclusive environment begins with learning and development opportunities, inclusive management and transparency from the top down. It should be entrenched that, in order for one person to gain opportunity, another doesn’t have to lose out. In our new world, job descriptions could be more open to growth, by building in mechanisms that facilitate collaboration between departments. 

“Most importantly, don’t let prejudice lead. Let opportunity flourish by providing upskilling for employees that need it, so employees can progress horizontally or vertically within the company. The stark reality is that, despite our progressive legislation, out of 26 000 South African businesses surveyed by Deloitte, only 11% of top management was Black African. This statistic can be changed from within, by shattering silos and creating an environment that encourages personal development. Perhaps your next CEO could be someone who started out as a debtors clerk or a driver. 

“Ultimately, inclusion is not just about meeting quotas. It should be about a culture of true collaboration – a philosophy that benefits employee and employer alike”. 

For more information, go to Universum Global