Leading Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by Dr. Rohini Anand serves as a roadmap for multinational organizations in creating and implementing systemic change to make workplaces more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.
Published on the 30th of November 2021, the book seeks to share lessons learned in transforming global organizational cultures so that employees feel a sense of belonging and can contribute to their fullest potential.
Dr. Anand is a strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) advisor and a renowned thought leader focusing on DEI and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) opportunities. Advocating for the inclusion of all people, she is a member of the board of Galt Foundation, an organization that promotes and expands employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
From Being an Outsider to Leading Inclusion
Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Dr. Anand grew up surrounded by people from the same cultural background as her. Thoughts about her identity never crossed her mind until she moved to the United States as a young Indian woman. Once there, she was perceived as an immigrant and a minority.
This experience prompted the realization that being part of the majority comes with privileges that people in the minority don’t have.
Knowing how it felt to be an outsider sparked her interest in DEI work. For her, global DEI is about leveling the playing field for everyone—no matter their identity. She brings her own experiences as an ethnic minority to the mission of Galt as she talks about able-bodied privilege.
A Guide for Systemic Change in Multinational Organizations
Leading Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion discusses five principles that can provide a throughline to address diversity, equity, and inclusion transformation in any organization.
These are based on Dr. Anand’s detailed observations and personal experiences in leading DEI changes globally for more than three decades as well as case studies from multiple organizations. The book includes personal anecdotes and recounts her experiences meeting and influencing people from different backgrounds to be inclusive leaders.
Here are the five principles from her book.
1. Make It Local
It is important to understand local contexts and anchor DEI efforts within this context. With that understanding, change agents can push for change in partnership with local champions.
2. Leaders Change to Lead Change
Leaders must lead DEI with intention, purpose, and passion, as with any other business priority. Often that conviction comes with a disruptive experience that challenges their worldview and makes them see or experience things from another person’s perspective.
3. And It’s Good Business, Too
DEI transformation works best when it is congruent with the purpose of an organization and embedded in how business is conducted.
4. Go Deep, Wide, and Inside-Out
DEI work needs to take a systemic approach, embedding DEI in the complex, interconnected systems and processes within an organization as well as in the external ecosystem.
5. Know What Matters and Count It
As the adage says, “What gets measured gets done.” To be effective, DEI outcomes must be measured, and teams must be held accountable for the results.
Key Takeaways from Dr. Anand’s Book
Although there are many more realizations and lessons you can gain yourself from reading the book, below are just some essential points you should keep in mind during your own effort in advancing DEI.
1. DEI Is a Business Imperative
Making your company’s workplace more diverse, equitable, and inclusive is a moral imperative. But aside from it being the right thing to do, it is also a strategic decision for your business.
Companies that prioritize DEI are observed to have better innovation and higher levels of productivity which ultimately result in more profit.
Dr. Anand shares research that demonstrates that people with disabilities have higher retention and productivity rates and low levels of absenteeism, which translates into substantial financial savings. With high levels of unemployment, hiring people with disabilities not only positively impacts the organization but also improves their quality of life.
The business imperative for disability-friendly organizations is further amplified as these organizations are more appealing to consumers, with 87 percent of customers in the US saying they would prefer to support businesses employing people with disabilities. Ask yourself:
- How can DEI enhance your organization’s mission and its business outcomes?
- What is the business benefit of hiring people with disabilities?
- Have we communicated that throughout the organization?
2. DEI Is a Systemic Issue
To address DEI, isolated efforts like training are not enough. To turn your company’s performative DEI actions into sustainable progress, you need to take a systemic approach.
This means that you need to assess all your processes and policies to eliminate bias and any systemic barriers that prevent the inclusion of people from underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities. Only by addressing systemic barriers will you be able to advance DEI successfully. Ask yourself:
- Are all your policies inclusive?
- Are all your processes, such as hiring, advancement, engagement, and retention of your talent, bias-free?
- Are your processes, products, and services accessible to people with disabilities?
3. Leadership Is Key
Dr. Anand writes that DEI transformation happens at the intersection of people and processes. In addition to addressing systems and processes for sustained DEI progress, there should be a commitment from leaders, champions, and allies throughout the organization.
Isolated actions like training courses and revamped policies to be more inclusive will remain transactional unless leaders lead DEI with intentionality and authenticity. Employees who experience a disconnect between leaders’ DEI words and actions will disengage, impacting organizational outcomes. Ask yourselves:
- Am I a consistent role model for inclusive behaviors?
- Am I leading DEI as I would any other business priority?
- Am I including disability when I address DEI?
- Am I sharing my personal stories to make it acceptable for employees with disabilities to self-disclose?
4. Measurement Is Critical
It is not enough for you to simply execute DEI initiatives. To fully understand the impact of your initiatives, you need to identify metrics that you can use to assess the success of your DEI efforts. These measures can include outcome metrics such as demographic representation and retention of employees.
To be effective, you also need to include process, behavioral, and action metrics that can make the culture more inclusive. Dr. Anand shares examples such as community engagement, mentoring, or sponsorship of employee resource groups. Ask yourself:
- Am I a sponsor of the organization’s people with disabilities employee resource group?
- Do I have relationships with disability NGOs?
- Am I measuring how inclusive the organizational culture is for people with disabilities through my employee engagement survey?
5. Collaboration Is Essential
DEI cannot be achieved with the effort of the leader alone. It requires collaboration and partnership with multiple stakeholders across the entire organization and in the external community. As Dr. Anand writes, DEI allies and champions at all organizational levels to help anchor DEI transformation in an organization.
Feedback from a range of stakeholders also helps assess and inform DEI progress. For example, employee information provides a different perspective than customer or community data. This data can be gathered in various ways, including surveys, focus groups, or talking with people and collecting their lived experiences.
The more stakeholders identify with and own your DEI efforts, the more successful and sustainable your efforts will be. Ask yourself:
- Are leaders and employees collaborating to ensure that DEI is embedded in the organization?
- Do we have disability allies and champions throughout the organization?
6. Cultural Competence Is a Must
In today’s global economy, organizations interact with diverse and multicultural employees, customers, and community members.
The more knowledge you have about your employees and customers, the more able you are to meet their needs. In addition to expertise, you need an awareness of your own identity and privilege, as well as the skills to actualize your understanding and knowledge. The knowledge, awareness, and skills enable you to be more culturally competent—a critical skill in today’s complex global economy. Ask yourself:
- Do I know what engages people with disabilities in my organization?
- Do I know how customers and clients with disabilities perceive my organization?
- Are those interacting with customers with disabilities culturally competent and meeting the needs of these customers?
FOR ASSISTANCE IN ADVANCING YOUR COMMITMENT TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, PARTNER WITH GALT FOUNDATION
Galt Foundation is a non-profit employment organization that focuses on leveling the playing field for each candidate, no matter how differently abled they are.
We also provide sensible staffing solutions and help organizations hire and engage people with disabilities. Contact us today to start a conversation.
For more information and to order your book, click here.