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Developing a diversity & inclusion program is a business imperative

Today, the economy and talent management is defined by globalization, influence of technologies and a socially networked workforce.  Analysts and industry thought leaders are predicting that by 2020, half of your workforce will not necessarily be your own direct employees.

Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse. The workforce diversity is not restricted to race and gender alone. Beside race and gender it includes sexual orientation, ethnic groups, culture, age groups (baby boomers, Gen X, millennial) and combination of any of these. To be competitive, organizations
need to embrace diversity like never before.

Talent Strategy: Develop a talent strategy to include diversity in your workforce. The talent strategy could be conducting talent acquisition that specifically targets the diverse workforce which can include, meet and greet network sessions, support groups, specific health benefits programs for the diversity group (for example additional support for single or  same-*** parents), leadership programs, etc. The talent strategy should include steps to make the work environment friendly and welcome.  One of them could be, during the performance and talent calibration sessions, ensure the workforce belonging to diversity related groups are fully supported and treated equally with the rest of the employee groups. This will ensure, they are provided the
opportunities to grow, and fully realize their potentials.

Before you roll-out such a talent strategy, ensure you get full buy-in from your executive leadership. When executives buy-in, they will support the financial budget required for the diversity program.  Some organizations, have a “Diversity and Inclusion Office” in their organization structure. This office
is specifically mandated to promote diversity and inclusion in the organization.

Untapped Opportunities: I migrated from India about 18 years back. All these years, my employer and direct manager’s ensured that I received the opportunities that I deserve, and opportunities that would make me grow. Not too long ago, I presented to my employer what India and that region have to offer in terms of business and recruiting opportunities. The idea was fully supported and we opened an off-shore development center in India. The diversity program not only helped me migrate to the US (and do well), but it brought new business opportunities for my employer.

SAP recently announced a recruiting effort to hire hundreds of autistic workers. Click here for more details, During the pilot program, SAP hired six autistic software testers. They found these testers were not only productive, but it greatly improved team cohesion.

Business Imperative: Businesses no longer work in silos. They are continually looking to expand beyond their traditional customer base. To service such a large and diverse customer base, their workforce should be diverse. A diverse workforce brings new thoughts and new leadership. Such a diverse workforce will push your organization into new territories that you did not know existed before. 

Make your diversity & inclusion program work for you

A diverse workforce challenges our long held belief on how to reward our employee’s and how to develop, sustain a rewarding pay-for-performance environment. To begin with, the talent strategy should not focus just on employee retention. The talent strategy should facilitate an environment where the diverse workforce feels included, and builds a sticky talent network. You should create an environment where the workforce can get cross-trained in different aspects of the organization, be able to do international assignments, work with cross-functional project teams,  communicate freely, and work with mentors who are from a different work stream.


The goals for the annual appraisal process should include a right combination of goals that tracks the employee’s job-related performance, as well development goals that supports their professional aspirations. I have noticed organizations include time spent on community activities (which aligns with the overall corporate strategy of community involvement), being included as a personal goal.

On October 30 at 10 am PT, I will be speaking on the same topic, in “The 21st century workforce: Strategies for success  Session 4 – Performance
and compensation strategies to make workforce diversity work for you
” webinar. You can find more details about the webinar and register here.

Having an all-inclusive diversity program is a business necessity. It is no longer an after-thought organization / talent strategy. Do not fall into the temptation of making the diversity & inclusion program look good on paper only – walk the talk. The diversity & inclusion program will greatly help your organization establish leadership in the market, help your bottom line and build a sustainable long-term growth.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Very good article ! I can fully identify with the observations .

      Author's profile photo Yannick Peterschmitt
      Yannick Peterschmitt

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on D&I with us Venki. I am very much looking for our session on October 30 to hear more from you.

      Best regards, Yannick