//The Uncomfortable Conversation: Diversity & Inclusion at the Workplace

The Uncomfortable Conversation: Diversity & Inclusion at the Workplace

By Haslindah Atan, Senior Vice President of Finance, Human Resources and Administration, MII

The future of work has become a fascinating subject, globally, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying that the pandemic has brought tremendous change and upheaval to our work conditions and arrangements, which have led to an increasing push to prioritize diversity and inclusion at the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion are not new concepts, but it is possible that in Asian cultures they are not addressed with urgent priority. However, many issues and events around the world are centered around diversity and inclusion, such as racial and gendered inequities in society. Thanks to social media, these issues are well-publicized and not only easily accessible but shared across the globe. Subsequently, this has motivated both employers and employees to carefully consider how diversity and inclusion are navigated in the workplace.

Important diversity issues in the workplace for 2022
The year 2022 is likely to bring new opportunities for diversity and inclusion in the workplace along with its share of challenges. According to experts, there are four diversity issues in the workplace that have become some of the most urgent topics in human resources. These four main issues that business and HR leaders should consider as part of their organizational plans in 2022 and beyond are:

  • Confronting vulnerabilities
    Dominik Hangartner, an associate professor of public policy at ETH Zürich said that ‘Bias that occurs at particular times is often unconsciously made’ and that at certain times of the day, depending on the events and mood of the day, stereotypes and experimental decision-making typically leads to more discrimination. Recruiters should make extra effort to fight bias when they are tired or adjust processes to more favorable hours when they are more rested.
  • Diversity tools need vetting
    HR departments should conduct in-depth studies on the diversity-related tools that they might want to use. As a consequence of the popularity and attention directed towards diversity and inclusion initiatives, a wealth of new tools for such initiatives have appeared recently. Nevertheless, experts advise caution saying HR should confirm the origins of the tools to consider possible algorithmic biases. In other words, who created the tool, matters.
  • Homogeneity plagues C-suites
    The path to leadership roles should be a component of diversity and inclusion initiatives. In a report published by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, CEOs and higher-ups are poised to become board members and CEOs are mostly male. Previous research has concluded that of all the CEO jobs at Fortune 500 firms, women hold only 7 percent while the percentage of ethnically diverse employees is at 9 percent.
  • Examining AI bias
    Organizations should investigate further how AI tools for recruitment works. Similar to the workings of diversity and inclusion tools, AI algorithms may be biased too.

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The issue of diversity and inclusion in working remotely
Diversity in the workplace and in life has become an asset. To a certain degree, our experiences determine our preferences, conduct and decisions. But what happens if everyone in the organization has had essentially the same life experiences, comes from similar backgrounds, and shares the same ethnicity?
There’s a good chance they will think alike in some ways, and this may create narrower business options and a smaller consumer base. Consumers who may need certain services may not get what they need because of this narrowed market and mindset. On the other hand, if an organization employs a workforce that is diverse, comprising people with different ideas, backgrounds, and priorities, it places itself at an advantage. Its diverse human resource pool will have the potential to help promote and grow the business by catering to the varied market segments through diversified products and services that meet differing needs.

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