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GUEST CONTRIBUTOR : Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder, Scenic Communication
Amidst economic downturn and the global crisis, the conversations around how diversity and inclusion could be an answer to innovative business practices that could shape the future of global economies, we are still far from understanding how to proceed with the subject.
Today, we are at a crossroads when it comes to Gender Inclusivity and Neutrality, in the corporate workplace. The recent women’s day celebrations in March raised the issues of unequal representation of women in leadership roles, the issues like equal share of voice, equal pay and equal opportunities, continue to be real hurdles in building gender inclusive and functionally effective diverse workplaces.
Additionally, as a society, gender biasness are still largely prevalent. From legal acceptance to same sex marriages, to mandatory representation of women in senior corporate roles, India has been taking the right steps in the right direction. However, at the grass root level, at various offices and workspaces, people continue to struggle, and face challenges, just to be seen and heard. It is time we acknowledge the biases that have been preventing meritorious talent and capabilities to reach their true potential.
The first thing to understand, is that a diverse and supportive, gender inclusive work culture goes way beyond just the equity in gender representation. For example, a lot of companies end up employing a certain number of women, just to meet the corporate mandate for diversity, but these women mainly find themselves in executive role, and are most likely not allowed an equal growth opportunity or share of voice or even a comfortable work environment. With employment opportunities opening up for other groups, including the third gender and people with different gender identifications, the task for corporate acceptance and support has become an even crucial, yet difficult one.
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In an ideal world, equal opportunities and equal share of voice would be a more naturally occurring phenomenon for all deserving talent, and not something that needs to be pushed and strived for. And while we aim to reach there, here are a few guidelines:
1. Make a commitment to gender inclusivity in the recruitment and hiring process:
From drafting job descriptions to educating recruitment partners about the company’s policy of equal, non-biased hiring, the commitment to gender inclusivity and equal opportunity, essentially starts with a JD. Conscious effort in language and job description needs to be made to avoid any subconscious biases when recruiting new talent.
2. Inculcate gender neutral language and practices:
From using gender neutral language in internal communications, newsletters, and also emails, to sensitizing both senior and executive members in the practice of gender neutral conversation, is a vital step. From example, use of designation and last names when officially addressing work mates in written communication is more professional than addressing them by their gendered pronouns and first names.
3. Invite and support ‘pronoun sharing’ as a standard:
As we evolve as a society to acknowledge and welcome people who have gender identities and expressions that go beyond the male/female binary, ‘pronoun sharing’ has become an important part, especially in the workplace. Asking employees to share the ‘pronoun’ – his/ him; her; their/them, can go a long way in making them feel accepted and recognized for who they identify as, in an otherwise binary world.
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4. Back-up the commitment with gender inclusive facilities:
Lastly, while the above are great, backing up of these with equal facilities, showcases true commitment and builds trust. Incorporating the needs of lactating or nursing mothers, for example, or offering paternity leaves to male employees, allocating inclusive washrooms etc., can all go a long way in building a work culture that recognizes, respects and supports the unique/ specific gender identities and their needs, while also treating them in a professional and unbiased manner, captures the gist of gender inclusive work culture.
A recent report by KPMG states that if women employment ratio were to increases by just 10%, the economy could benefit by up to trillions of dollars! Now imagine where we would stand if this was extended to people of other gender identities and the third gender as well! While we still have a long way to go in achieving the above, now is as good a time and place to start, as ever. Apart from offering profitability, a supportive gender inclusive work place creates a culture for tolerance, creativity, and helps boost performance of the entire workforce, as they feel more empowered, respected and valued.
About Anindita Gupta: Co-founder, Scenic Communications
With 14 years of professional experience in Public Relations & Marketing, Anindita comes with a deep understanding of the dynamic media and communication landscape in India. Her Key skills include strategizing public relations, marketing and advertisement campaign with a methodical and disciplined approach.
Apart from her businesses, Anindita is also a part of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, India | Business Group (IBG) and Indian Merchants’ Chamber. She is one of the core members of Business
Opportunities Club (BOC) & Business Network International (BNI) which works closely with entrepreneurs to build a collaborative environment