By Chandrasekar Krishnamurthy
Set in the 1960s, the hit show Mad Men gave us a glimpse into the inner workings of an ad agency. Amidst all the creativity and careless tossing back of cocktails at work, one thing was glaringly obvious –the office was no place for women, racial / ethnic minorities or in fact, anyone who was different in any way. Ambitious women like Peggy Olsen were destined to forever deal with misogynists, the glass ceiling was much lower and glaringly obvious, and if you were not straight, white and male, chances of you ever climbing to the top of the corporate ladder were very dim. I know Mad Men was just a TV show, but it was well researched and did paint an accurate picture of the workplace a few decades ago. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. It is almost as if the real world listened to Don Draper when he said “If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation”. Corporates collectively decided to change the conversation around diversity and inclusivity at the workplace and the world has been a better place for it.
A recent Bersin by Deloitte report revealed that of all the people related policies that impacted a company, those that focused on Inclusivity had the maximum impact on the organization’s growth. The report went on to say that “Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers”. It is important to note at this point that the concept diversity cannot, indeed should not be restricted to just gender or racial diversity. This is particularly true in the modern context when education and technology has broken so many barriers to offer opportunities for growth like never before. To be considered truly diverse, an organization has to look beyond just gender or ethnicities and embrace different abilities, socio economic backgrounds and age groups at the workplace.
There is also the matter of inclusivity. We live and operate in a society that is already quite diverse. The saying unity in diversity was coined to describe the diverse nature of our country. The question really is – how inclusive are we? As workplaces open up to more and more people from different social strata and with varying physical abilities it is important to consider if this diverse workforce truly feels like they are a part of the mainstream organization. Does everyone feel that they have the same opportunities for growth and development which also assimilate their special needs? How do the mainstream teams and colleagues treat them? How easy is it to work with regular coworkers? Do they have equal growth opportunities? How well do their families understand their attempts integrate with the mainstream population?
While diversity initiatives are great, to be truly successful, an organization must go the extra mile to address these critical inclusivity issues at the office as well. Biases are inherent in human beings. Sometimes, unintentionally, these biases get in the way of making different people feel welcome and included in a team. Frequent awareness and sensitization workshops coupled with everyday working in diverse teams can help address some of these challenges. With its policies and its every day work culture, an organization can create a truly diverse and inclusive environment.
At EMC, we are committed to the cause of diversity and inclusivity at the workplace. For us, it is a simple equation -– society consists of different kinds of people with different abilities, backgrounds, even ethnicities and as an entity that functions within that society, it is only logical to employ without prejudice. This is at the core of everything we do and of course, our policies, HR initiatives and even our office spaces are designed with our diverse workforce in mind. We go beyond mere gender and race to integrate persons with disabilities and from different socio economic backgrounds into our teams.
From regular sensitizing and awareness workshops to technology assisted work aids for day to day functioning, our policies and initiatives cover all aspects of working with a diverse team. From mentoring, facilitating and leveling the playing field – for example telecommuting for a employee with mobility issues or soft skills training for TIER II and III engineering college students, we go the extra mile to ensure our workforce has equal opportunities for growth and development. We go beyond just our employees and look at conducting workshops with their families as well in an attempt to mainstream physical and socio economic differences. D&I as we call it,is hardwired into our systems and the biggest testament to this came a few weeks ago when our employees voluntarily went through a sign language course just so that they could communicate better with their hearing impaired colleagues.
Winds of change continue to blow over the diversity and inclusivity discussion. On the global political theatre, we have witnessed an African American serve as the President of the United States of America and might just see the country elect its first woman president. From the shockingly restrictive days of Mad Men to the modern day, workplaces and workplace cultures have undergone a sea change. The concept of diversity and inclusivity is constantly evolving to include more and more marginalized sections of society into the mainstream. The modern generation is open minded and inherently inclusive and I hope this trait will continue to grow and develop to a point where some time in the near future, workplace diversity and inclusivity will not need special policies – they will be an integral organic part of the organization .
About the Author: Chandrasekar Krishnamurthy is theVice President, Global Services and Executive Sponsor , P3– Corporate Sustainability at EMC Corporation.
Chandrasekar Krishnamurthy (Chandra) is Vice President – Global Services at EMC India COE, responsible for EMC Professional Services, Managed Services & Enterprise Support teams at India COE. Chandra is also part of India COE Leadership Team, leading the Growth (GTM) Program for the EMC India COE, and is also the Executive Sponsor for P3 – People, Planet and Possibilities, EMC India COE’s initiative towards a more inclusive and sustainable planet.
Chandra brings over 25 years of IT experience to this role, with a strong track record of producing business results, managing global teams across multiple locations. His focus in this role is to drive world class Global Delivery for EMC’s Services while improving TCE for EMC customers. He and his team are focused on architecting for the future by enabling customers in their Digital Transformation journey, leveragincg EMC’s solutions around Cloud, Big Data and Trust (Security). Further, he is helping define the longer term Global Delivery strategy for the Global Services organization, leveraging the collective capability of EMC’s COEs across the world. He collaborates closely with the company’s global services teams and partners to help drive business growth, value excellence, and client satisfaction.
Prior to his role in EMC, Chandra was the Vice president and the Delivery Lead for the CGI’s India Global Delivery Center, where he was responsible for service delivery across multiple technology domains for global customers. Previously, Chandra held leadership positions in product engineering, consulting and pre-sales at Oracle Corporation, Sierra Atlantic, Wipro Limited and Zensar Technologies. He has worked in multiple geographies across the United States, Canada, Europe, and India in various capacities including technical, consulting and managerial roles. Chandra holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Software Enterprise Management, from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore and a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR.