I strongly believe diversity and inclusion is in our mind. We all should ask ourselves – “Am I biased”, “What makes me uncomfortable when I am people who are not agreeing to me”, “When was last time I truly demonstrated Inclusion”.
Especially in case of gender diversity, there are few important stages that impact at socio cultural level. First, in our families parents are creating biases on what girls can do and cannot do. Two, during education and early college years, girls themselves try test what advantages their gender can bring. It’s not their fault and it’s bound to happen and it happens across the world. What is important, are the right messages from parents, colleges and friends. Third is accepting mistakes. We, as society overhype mistakes made on gender related topics. Clearly something like sexual harassment is not acceptable but people should be ok to bring up issues which are uncomfortable than hiding them. Fourth, in marriages we again as a society segregate what wife does and what husband does. Things have improved but a long way to go. Both husband and wife together need to step up. Fifth, during child birth women themselves start feeling guilty and set wrong expectations of over commitment. Sixth, even in politics and at country level decision making bodies, women representation does not exist. Seven, entertainment and movies play an important role because it depicts women as sexual dolls and in some lesser mortals. Eighth, girls/women themselves need to step up in their knowledge, information and insights level beyond work and home. How many women are making themselves equipped to have intelligent discussions on politics, business and historical subjects. They end up discussing only work, kids, shopping and make up. Ninth, many religions have multiple restrictions for women which gets engrained in both women and men from their childhood. Tenth, punish strongly publicly both men and women who do not respect diversity. Our law system takes decades to punish the wrong doings. I want to call out social media which is playing an important role right now in bringing forward the issues and awareness on this subject.
Organisations play an important role in all these stages. Beginning by bringing it up for discussion at all levels, creating role models, educating not just about the office environment but even about larger topics where gender issues come up. Setting up right policies, systems to my mind are brilliant basics. Where organizations need to step up is creating awareness of larger subjects and creating champions not just for office but for society. Breaking the myths by talking about them, reaching out to sections in society where there is actual struggle. Change cannot happen only by adding numbers but making people aware at conscious or sub conscious levels