Diversity and Inclusivity as a Value Based Imperative

Diversity and inclusivity in organizations have to be practiced instead of being preached. This is because they are concepts that lend credence to value based management and management that is humanistic in nature. Many organizations claim to have diversity programs only to have a few women in positions of power or differently abled employees just for the sake of satisfying the principle of diversity in the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. This is the case with many top-notch companies where regressive attitudes exist to prevent women and other minorities from being significant. However, this is neither the ideal situation nor even the acceptable situation, as management has to be driven by values instead of being driven by profit alone. Hence, there is a need to practice value-based management and incorporate diversity as a guiding principle for recruitment and promotions.

Of course, we are not making the case for an affirmative action kind of scenario where disadvantaged groups are recruited and promoted irrespective of their abilities. Rather the point that is being made here is that there should not be implicit and explicit barriers to women and differently abled employees reaching senior positions.

The prevailing attitudes must change and leadership must set an example to the rest of the organization to follow when formulating and actualizing diversity management policies and procedures. In this scenario, women and differently abled people as well as disadvantaged groups are treated equally with the other employees and without showing them undue favours, barriers are not placed in their path. This should be the goal of diversity management if value based management is adopted as the guiding principle for organizations.

The point here is that the ongoing economic crisis has shown how lack of ethics and normative principles can wreak havoc with the corporate system. Hence, the only way out is for corporate leaders to practice value based management and this can be done only if the senior leadership walks the talk instead of just talking the talk. Moreover, a culture of tolerance and inclusivity has to be built into the organizational DNA since senior management alone cannot change the system on their own. What this means is that middle management and even the employees from the ground up have to be taught to respect diversity and welcome inclusivity.

There are many companies including Infosys where the senior management is committed to diversity and inclusivity but the situation in the shop floor is something different altogether. Indeed, there are many instances of employees showing scant respect for diversity and be exclusive in their dealings with women. This presents problems for the companies concerned, as not only does this attitude vitiate the organizational culture but is also detrimental for its reputation and adherence to corporate governance principles. As mentioned earlier, if there is one lesson from the recent events, it is that one can fool people for some time but not all the time. Hence, value based management that promotes diversity and inclusivity as a business principle should be the goal of corporate leaders.


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