Workplace equality: Taking the conversation beyond gender

Equality at workplace is not merely about equal pay. It is about creating an environment that embraces diversity amongst employees in every aspect—ethnicity, skills, gender, race, thought, sexual orientation, religion and so on

Updated: Oct 3, 2019 12:14:07 PM UTC

Abdul Jaleel is Vice President- Employee Experience at Adobe India.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Gender parity has been the focal point of India Inc’s diversity strategy for some time now. Today, there is, in fact, a growing need to take the conversation beyond gender, towards a holistic plan for inclusivity and equality for all.

Equality at workplace is not merely about equal pay. It is about creating an environment that embraces diversity amongst employees in every aspect—ethnicity, skills, gender, race, thought, sexual orientation, religion and so on. A work environment that is unable to provide voice, respect and equity to all employees alike, is bound to lose out on optimum productivity. Inclusion, therefore, is not merely a ‘feel good’ strategy—it is an imperative. Innovation, growth and success can only come from organisations that belong to ‘everyone’, with equal access to resources and opportunities.

Process and behavior checks
While measures for opportunity parity could translate into an assortment of fair practices at the workplace, such as fair allocation of workload, equal access to benefits, work conditions or merit-based selection processes for promotions and hiring. On a more nuanced note, it also means not asking women employees if they plan to marry or have a child; eliminating groupism; and encouraging all employees to speak freely about the words, phrases or actions that may bother them.

Besides having a positive impact on the emotional well-being of employees, opportunity parity also has manifold benefits. To start with, it facilitates a fertile ground for two visible outcomes:

» Movement: Employees moving into different roles across the organisation, as internal lateral job moves » Advancement: Employees moving into roles with increased scope and impact

Of course, these outcomes can only be achieved by a coalition of multiple factors, including employees’ access to learning and development, coaching and effective feedback; their own ambitions relative to movement and advancement; the organisation’s need and availability of these roles; and open and fair internal processes.

Time for change
So, if you are in a position of influence (I believe everyone is, in their own unique way) at your workplace, you could start by appreciating the uniqueness of each employee. Ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. In cases of grievances, gather information and investigate impartially. Look to equalise meetings, assignments and social events. And encourage every member of every team to speak up and offer feedback. There is no greater source of inspiration than a workplace where every single person feels his or her voice is heard and there are no barriers to access the opportunities they seek or the growth they deserve.

The writer is Vice President- Employee Experience at Adobe India.

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