A recent report Transforming Enterprises through Diversity and Inclusion, reported that one in four people do not feel valued at work and those who do, are in more senior roles. It says “The Covid-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated existing inequalities in our economies and societies.”
This situation brings to the fore the need for organisations to dedicate more time, resources, and expertise into implementing relevant Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategies
Diversity in the workplace refers to similarities and differences among its employees that can potentially impact employment and businesses outcomes. Inclusion, on the other hand, is relational; It refers to the extent to which employees feel valued for who they are, their unique contributions and their sense of belonging to their colleagues.
Speedy deployment of information and communication technology and the rising number of millennials entering the workplace present new D&I opportunities and challenges for many organisations. Multinationals now more than ever recognise that a strong commitment to D&I is critical for their long-term success and sustainability.
The workplace is and should be the starting point of all D&I initiatives. Senior management must create an environment that is both conducive and enabling to success-where everyone feels seen and recognised. Training is an important first step where employees get to learn concepts such as “respect at work,” and “unconscious bias.” This is then enhanced by targeted diversity related initiatives or groups which provide learning, development, and networking opportunities.
We must also embrace diversity and inclusion in our ecosystem starting from our clients’ experiences to our supply chain.
A report on skills and employability in Africa by [i] Africa Development Bank (AFDB) States that the continent is considered the least skilled in the world with non-inclusive and jobless growth highlighted as key constraints limiting economic transformation, skills development, and creation of productive jobs. Cognisant of this, D&I interventions must address these skills gap whilst empowering people and groups that are underrepresented in the workforce
In 2020, we partnered with Sight Savers International and Light for the World to create (EmployABLE) a programme that addresses this need. This initiative aims to develop job-ready young people by equipping them with skills such as CV writing, interviewing skills, soft-skills training, career mentoring and job placements.
EmployABLE provides young people with technical and/or transferable skills training skills for the future of work such as digital and computer literacy, coding, STEM, and life skills such as cognitive skills for analysing information as well as financial literacy.
Each company must now unpack what D&I really means for its employees, partners, and communities. This should be supported by a robust system to measure and track progress against set metrics.
The writer is the head of human resources, Kenya and East Africa – Standard Chartered Bank