In August 2022, Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp) launched the National Diversity Summit and Women Career Convention (NDSxWCC) in Penang. It is the first hybrid career event — physical and virtual — that aims to increase organizations’ efforts and commitments in developing a workplace and a workforce that prioritizes DEI: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion. TalentCorp invited speakers from the Penang Women’s Development Corporation, Intel Malaysia, Dell Technologies, Micron Memory Malaysia, Keysight Technologies, Motorola Solutions Malaysia, and Universiti Sains Malaysia to share their views and experiences of DEI through insightful panel discussions and workshops.
As the convention just ended, let’s examine what we have learned from this event.
DEI Is More Than Just Race And Gender
When we talk about Diversity, the first thing that pops out in our mind is race and gender differences. However, a successful DEI initiative is all about having a culture of acceptance and understanding. Hence, the ‘D’ in DEI refers to all aspects of human differences, social identities, and social group differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual identity, language, (dis)ability, education background, socio-economic status, and political views.
DEI Should Not Be Just Based On Quota
Using quotas is the easiest way to increase the representation of minorities within organizations. However, hiring decisions should not be made just to fill out said quota regardless of the candidate’s suitability for the role. This not only did not tackle the real issue — inequality — but also would lead the minority groups to feel undervalued for their abilities and talents. Achieving quota in such a manner is merely presenting a pretty number to satisfy the public. Hence, hiring managers should ensure that the opportunities given to all candidates are fair and square. Only when two equally qualified candidates are in a tie-breaker situation, hiring managers could choose to hire the candidate who is from the underrepresented group.
In a nutshell, close monitoring should be carried out to ensure the diversity quota system is implemented correctly, and not just box-checking.
DEI Is All About Trust
Diversity doesn’t mean anything if we are unable to create an inclusive environment that is based on trust and empathy. Trust is the foundation of any meaningful relationship as it goes hand in hand with essential components of a relationship such as honesty, respect, open communication, understanding, and love. Without trust, employees would be doubtful of each other, and be suspicious of every decision made; causing confusion, questioning, anger, and conflicts within the team which sabotage productivity, engagement, and retention.
On the other hand, when employees feel trusted, valued, and included in the team, they would feel confident and safe to be their authentic selves as well as to share their personal opinions with others, and hence cognitive diversity is promoted.
DEI Increases Profitability and Sustainability
A successful DEI initiative promotes cognitive diversity which allows employees to see problems from multiple angles. The consideration of different perspectives sparks creativity and open-mindedness which contributes to something new, whether it is a new product, a new service, or a new market. It is the sharing of knowledge and acceptance of new perspectives which fuels innovation. Diversity also contributes to sustainability as it reduces groupthink and risky behaviour.
DEI Can Backfire Too
Everything has its pros and cons, the same goes for implementing DEI in the workplace. If DEI strategies are not implemented correctly, issues starting from communication barriers, and conflicting beliefs, to bullying, discrimination, and even harassment can happen. And the first and most crucial step to preventing these issues is to enforce a zero-tolerance policy. Leaders could choose to terminate employment or bring the case to court if necessary. Besides, leaders should create a physical and psychologically safe environment for victims to open up and voice out about these issues.
Organizations can organize annual training to increase awareness, provide information on how to protect themselves and prevent these issues from happening, and most importantly where to seek help and support. Plus, organizations should keep this information available in the office or on their website so that employees could access the information when needed.
Last but not least, managers and leaders must walk the talk and be role models to their colleagues and subordinates.
And that is some of the key takeaways that we have learned from the National Diversity Summit and Women Career Convention 2022. If you are keen to know more about some interesting and successful DEI strategies that were shared during the conference, you could refer to the recordings for Day 1 and Day 2.
Otherwise, you could just drop us a message, we would be glad to share our findings with you😉