Good food and a fun regional quiz made last evening cool at Genesys in Singapore. It was to celebrate diversity and inclusion (D & I) at the workplace, a big buzz in today’s corporate world, with the birthdays of some staff providing the spark.
At Genesys workplace diversity is a priority as the company believes “it opens new doors for innovation, collaboration and engagement.”
Cisco was ranked seventh in a Fortune report for 2018 on companies with the most inclusive culture based on a range of parameters, including openness to employing women, people of colour, sexual orientation (LGBTQ), Boomers or those with disabilities.
Tussle over Hiring of Chief Diversity Officer
Such is the growing power of D & I that IBM even sued Microsoft last year over the hiring of its Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Lindsay-Rae McIntyre. However, the two companies reached a settlement, and IBM lost its CDO. Two tech giants fighting over an executive ended up making her a celebrity of sorts. With the settlement, Lindsay got to jump ship to Microsoft as CDO. What fun!
Microsoft (as with Cisco) is also among the companies considered to have a healthy diversity practice, despite the gender discrimination issues it had faced.
Incidentally, earlier this week, Genesys, the company I work for, announced the induction of Tony Bates as its CEO. He had held leadership positions at both Cisco, a former employer for me (during 2005-2010), and Microsoft.
When I joined Genesys in 2015, after a transit at BT, it was like home-coming for me. I could smell Cisco all around me – that is, the work culture at Genesys was no different from what I experienced at the networking giant then headed by John Chambers.
It was not just about diversity and inclusiveness, but also accent on employee-centricity with an openness to ideas and making staff valued with a sense of belonging, transcending barriers of every hue – gender, ethnicity, race, ageism, sexuality, etc
Inclusive Culture Being Embraced by APAC
The D & I culture was generally confined to the West until recently. It is now being rapidly embraced by companies in APAC as well, with some even having documented policies that stop them from doing business with those that are seen weak in terms of diversity, social responsibility and sustainability.
Amid a climate where globalisation is losing ground, it is also becoming increasingly evident that companies stuck in a myopic world, with insularity transparent in every aspect of business, will struggle to forge ahead.
A McKinsey report even points to a link between diversity and the financial performance of organisations, with inclusion strategies arming them with a competitive edge. Greater diversity in the workforce, per the report, “results in greater profitability and value creation.”
Not a Numbers Game
But diversity is not a numbers game and blind adherence to it will not give companies any game-changing exposure. The spirit of inclusiveness has to be reflected in leadership diversity as well. This is where a lot of companies, not excluding Amazon, struggle with.
Diversity simply means bringing aboard the best available talent, without being restricted by discriminatory practices, and making them feel at home with merit-based promotion avenues that can help trim attrition. An environment that rewards the deserving across prejudices augurs well for businesses.
Diversity, when implemented right, will boost innovation across the full business spectrum and enable inclusive growth both for individuals and companies.
G Joslin Vethakumar