As Malaysians, we’re blessed to be a part of a country rich with resources, beautiful flora and fauna, and a melting pot of cultures. Talk of diversity and inclusion has been a hot topic with some companies taking bold steps to ensure their employees are not just the industry’s crème of the crop but that they are part of an inclusive and accepting workforce. Today, diversity ranges from age, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, education, physical capabilities and more.
A survey by McKinsey & Company has shown that diversity closely correlates to the company’s financial performance. In the article that sums up the survey, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Although this research was conducted amongst a variety of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States, similar sentiments are surely shared in many other parts of the world, including ours.
As this is the season to ignite our inner patriotism, with our country celebrating its 64th National Day a few weeks ago and Malaysia Day in just a few days, we thought to share some ideas on how companies can promote diversity in all forms, and leverage on its benefits.
Acknowledge the Need for Diversity
All efforts to promote diversity within a company will be meaningless if the key stakeholders do not acknowledge that there is a need for change. Surely easier said than done, but small steps to make a big impact often start with a single step forward. Take a good look at the company’s workforce, culture and processes that need to change to create a more inclusive working environment. This will allow decision-makers to understand the gaps that are present in the current workforce and ways to move forward with new initiatives to drive inclusivity within a company.
Glassdoor also suggests for companies to communicate any initiatives clearly with employees. After all, who is better than your existing workforce to help hire and recruit new talents. However, be warned that although steps are taken to recruit diverse new hires, it is ultimately the company’s culture that will set the tone and increase the success rate of these initiatives in the long run.
Incorporate Diversity At Every Step of the Way
From early steps such as unbiased recruitment to creating groups for team-building activities, be sure that inclusivity is injected into everything the company does moving forward. If possible, take bolder steps and revise company policies, incorporate them into performance reviews and add on a diversity-friendly component to the company’s mission statement.
Training your HR staff to implement inclusivity, recognise potential biases and ways to deal with them within your organisation would certainly help to ensure proper steps are taken. Creating a council or panel consisting of diverse members will also allow employees to be more engaged with your initiatives while providing a judgement-free platform of idea-sharing with different perceptions. These are crucial in successfully creating an inclusive and diverse workforce.
One of the best things about being Malaysian is our celebrations— from Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Gawai to Christmas, we are spoilt with public holidays and a plethora of cultural activities as well as cuisine. Many companies opt to have celebrations for each festivity done company-wide, which is an excellent effort! But few celebrate Merdeka Day or Malaysia Day with the same amount of gusto. Perhaps, this is something to consider celebrating for the coming years. It is the perfect opportunity to plan activities that make us Malaysian first! Decorate workspaces with our Jalur Gemilang and sing the national anthem together. This creates closer-knit employee relations and possibly cross boundaries that we may not have even realised existed.
Similarly, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day, don’t forget to pay the same amount of importance to International Men’s Day!
Having a hiring drought? Consider hiring retirees that could impart some valuable life lessons and work skills to the younger generation. Many opt to continue working despite their age but lack the opportunity.
Having a diverse and inclusive workforce does not just benefit a company but as humans, it opens minds, gives perspective and creates an overall positive work environment. Indirectly, it helps improve productivity, teamwork and cultivate creativity. While this may be challenging but it is definitely worth a try. After all, in the challenging times we live in now, humanity could use a stronger sense of togetherness at home with their own families, and with their work family.