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Posted April 12, 2021

Diversity and inclusion in workplace

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A study by Great Place to Work found that when employees trust they will be treated fairly and their colleagues will be treated fairly, they are far more likely to look forward to going to work and to want to remain with their employer. The emphasis on diversity and inclusion has taken on even greater importance in the wake of last year’s protests for racial equality.

Gimbala Sankare, who is our director of global talent acquisition and diversity & inclusion, joined us on today’s episode of Benefits Buzz to talk about his approach in bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront every single day at our company. He also shared tips on ways you can do the same and why doing so is very important for the modern workplace. Watch the episode below or keep reading to learn more from him.

What is diversity and inclusion? 

Sankare defines the two terms as follows: 

  • Diversity is the representation of a workforce as it pertains to a variety of factors, including race and gender. It also includes whether you employ veterans or people with disabilities. You can measure this through promotion rates, attrition rates, and the types of candidates joining your organization.
  • Inclusion is related to workplace culture and how people feel they are part of your organization. Do your employees feel like they are being treated equally based on their race or their gender, for example? Sankare said this is much tougher to measure. Start by conducting engagement surveys and culture surveys with your employees. 

Why should businesses emphasize their stance on social issues?

Last year’s Black Lives Matter protests ushered in a new era of corporate support for the protests. Why? Increasingly, people are making decisions about who they work for, who they shop from, etc., based on whether the company shares the same values that they have. For example, 87 percent of people surveyed said they would purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about. 

Sankare says the same applies for recruiting and retention efforts. You might hear questions from the current generation of the workforce and the next generation of the workforce asking how your company responded to societal issues, such as George Floyd’s death.

“Those are historical moments that will forever play a role in how you as an HR professional will define the culture of your organization and the culture of how your organization is perceived going forward,” Sankare said.

How should you approach bias?

Bias is out there. It often comes from our own life experiences, such as how diverse our environment is today or where we came from. Sankare said the goal shouldn’t be to eliminate your employees’ biases. Instead, these opportunities should be viewed as a learning experience.

“You can’t eliminate bias, because it’s who we are as humans,” Sankare said. “You can mitigate it. From an HR perspective, I liken the stuff that happened last year and the role HR professionals played to the role that CEOs were playing in the 2008 financial crisis. It was the first time when I felt like HR finally arrived in a moment. It played a significant strategic role not just to the culture and the people, but also strategically where the business direction needs to go.”

What is one way you can make a difference?

Sankare encourages you to keep asking one question: Why? If you feel something is out of place, question it. 

“Just keep asking why,” Sankare said. “There are many times when I walk into meetings and I’m the only black person in there. That’s a lived thing today in corporate America. And I ask myself why. If you’re a woman walking into a meeting and you’re the only woman in there. Ask yourself, ‘Why?’ … That’s part of the transformational journey to get to the root of it.”

For more on this topic, check out our episode of Benefits Buzz and subscribe today!

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