The idea behind having a diverse workforce in an organization is to access different views, opinions and perspectives of different people and boost creativity and innovation. But diversity cannot function in isolation. Instead, it needs to be supported by Inclusion and Equity.
Getting diverse people on board will never serve the purpose unless and until they are all made to feel included and treated equitably.
In the previous two articles, we had spoken about how vital it is to have the elements of diversity and inclusion in the workplace in today’s day and age. But it doesn’t end here.
The people who have been taken on not only have to feel wanted, worthy and valued, but they all want to be treated fairly in an equitable manner.
But there is a word of caution here. Equitable doesn’t mean equal. There is a difference between Equality and Equity, which organizations need to understand.
Being equitable means treating everyone in the same way. It means treating everyone equally with the same set of rules and regulations. It is like believing that one shoe fits all.
But if we ponder this, we realize this cannot be true as one shoe cannot fit all. So the size and shape of the foot have to be kept in mind.
Similarly, in a workplace, we can’t treat everyone the same way; we must keep the circumstances, the situations and people’s backgrounds in mind.
That is where Equity comes in.
Equity means that we treat people the way they need to be treated. It means we treat people based on what they need to succeed, which could be and is different for different people.
Also Read: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Part 1
Diversity by itself cannot make organizations successful and strong. Instead, how the organizations harness that diversity and how they put it to use makes all the difference.
So if you have different kinds of people in your organization who come from different social and economic backgrounds, you may have to ensure that adequate and appropriate facilities or privileges are available to them so that there is a level playing field for all.
If women, for instance, need support during pregnancy in terms of flexible working hours, then so be it. If they are as qualified as men and as capable as men, then this allowance for something that a man is never going to experience and which prevents her from giving her hundred per cent must be taken care of.
Similarly, if a ramp is provided for a person in a wheelchair, then that is to enable the person to get to work as easily as the others. Others don’t need a ramp; others don’t need flexible hours; you are treating people how they need to be treated and not how everyone should be treated.
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When you decide to be equitable and fair, you are willing to give something extra to someone who needs it because you realize all of you are necessary for the organization to thrive and succeed. You come from a mindset of abundance where you believe that by giving, you are creating more as a team, as a workforce. And when you make this mindset known to a diverse set of people, they feel included and wanted and will work to the best of their potential.
Also Read: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Part 2
When the workplace culture becomes equitable, it is then that it becomes inclusive.
So if you want equality, you must first bring in Equity; you must remove the historical conditions that have perpetuated and reinforced inequalities.
Therefore benefits of workplace diversity cannot become a reality till diversity includes Equity and inclusion as well.
Now that you understand why #DEI go together, you need to work towards getting them in place, for the how.. watch this space.