4 min read

How To Ensure Inclusion In A Diverse And Hybrid Workplace

No need to worry if you missed out on the session.  You can watch the entire event on our Youtube Channel (video embedded above).

Here is a summary of the hour long event to help you get a basic understanding of the entire discussion.

The session was started off with a round of introduction of the esteemed panel.

Poorna Pushkala is the Senior VP - HR and Training, Branding at Samunnati.

Poorna is a senior certified HR Professional who has over 16 years of proven expertise in setting up the entire HR Functions for start-ups, and helping them grow with time. Her main focus lies in transforming HR practices, and building brand identity.

Dr. Ankita Singh is the Senior VP and Global Head HR at Cignex Datamatics.She has over 19 years of experience in managing and leading various aspects of HR spanning across high paced businesses  domains of ITES. Her main focus is to drive organisational culture and values through people and not processes alone.

After the initial set of introductions and break-the-ice questions, the session moved on to discussing the topic at hand with the first question being asked by the host, Meena (HR Lead at Airmeet).

What would you pick - Expert HR or Bold HR?

Ankita - I would pick empathetic HR, I don’t think being an expert HR is possible as you keep learning new things everyday. I also think bold cannot be associated with HR as you need to keep adjusting to new situations as an HR. Therefore, I would pick the option of a Real HR.

Poorna - None of these, I would say no HR, as everyone is an HR in their own way.

Meena said she would pick bold HR since HRs should be bold enough to stand up for members when it comes to biasness and other workplace issues.

The next question asked by Meena was:

What kind of inclusion initiatives have you come up with to use in a hybrid environment?

Ankita - One priority is ensuring that your statutory compliance is taken care of. Second is having flexibility towards creating policies in your organisation, trying to make them cater to individual needs as well. Ensuring that you train the people managers to understand that what contribution they bring to the table is valuable and not their title or where they come from. Keeping equal policies for all is also vital. Building a culture where you can accommodate different types of people with different skills in the best way is also important.

Poorna - To ensure that statutory benefits are applied to all members of the team. Even interns are given the opportunity to engage on a large level. If your processes are in place, it will lead to individual growth. Giving people the chance to ask for feedback themselves is also important and should be a part of the existing organisational processes.

The next question that was discussed is:

What are some of the unconscious biases you have seen that have hindered inclusion within the organisation?

Poorna - First is the gender related biases that typically exist. Not giving opportunity to female employees to travel to remote places for work due to safety reasons since they cannot be accompanied with another person. Another bias is forming assumptions due to age, for example if a woman member is getting married it is assumed she will be taking maternity leave within two years. Other bias is when we know someone is fighting any sort of illness such as depression we tend to refrain from giving them any sort of criticism.

Ankita - We aim at getting the best person for any position in the company, focusing on people that meet the standards and not trying to understand why others might not be able to meet all requirements for the job. Same goes for picking males over females because they seem to be a better fit. In cases of mothers, having to wait for them to return from maternity leave along with deciding whether to appreciate their work after coming back since it might de-motivate employees that have been consistently working during the period of leave, are some of the issues that have seemed to cause various forms of biases.

This was followed by a discussion on:

What initiatives have you taken in your organisation to avoid such biases?

Ankita - Training managers by showing what is happening in the organisation and telling them what kind of culture we want by bringing about awareness regarding these biases. You have to have proper ambassadors to motivate others to follow steps to build a better culture. Additionally, when top management starts practicing the practices to remove biases, then other team members will also follow.

Poorna - Creating awareness is very important. We participate in small group interactions to ask members to share if they have experienced such biases or if they were aware of the existence of such biases. Additionally, making people feel that they have a safe space to talk about their issues.

The last question for the session was:

How do you measure inclusivity?

Ankita - You can use various tools to understand employee engagement such as how many hours they are working, what is their level of input and concentration. These metrics can be used to understand how inclusive the work environment is. Additionally, you also have to understand the individual employee, and create measurements according to them.

Poorna - When people see they are being treated equally and fairly they automatically feel included in the workplace. There is no proper metric we can use, giving members a chance to work in a safe and encouraging environment should help in making them feel included.

A question was asked by the audience:

How to ensure a more gender neutral environment especially inclusion of LGBTQ?

Poorna - Building awareness is very important in any company. Using role models also helps in doing so. Along with this learning more about the environment and how the company can work towards making the environment more neutral.

Ankita: Staying educated and adapted to the current environment along with creating equal opportunity is important in order to successfully build a gender neutral environment.

With this, the session was drawn to an end.

We hope you found this summary to be helpful. We look forward to seeing you in the next session.

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