The pandemic may have increased the pace of diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives and commitment among corporate India. However, the employee sentiment regarding the effectiveness of these policies doesn’t seem to be positive. About 71% employees believe that the D&I policies in their organisation are ‘found wanting’, with 35% pointing out that the policies need further improvement, states a new report by job search portal Indeed India.
The report, titled The Change We Want To See, focuses on how the pandemic has impacted D&I initiatives and the perception held by employees and employers towards practices, policies and perception of these policies. Around 527 businesses and 1500 employees across different organisation sizes took part in the study conducted in October this year.
One of beneficiaries of covid-19 related D&I policy changes was the LGBTQ+ community. 52% organisations, including the majority of small scale organisations, modified policy to ensure LGBTQ+ candidates got fair representation. Hiring of disabled candidates also saw an improvement from pre-pandemic times.
However, over a quarter of employees admitted to not having any proper D&I policies for hiring in their organisation. This was felt strongly by employees working in the e-commerce sector (51%), followed by retail, telecommunications, and construction and real estate. Then there were those (31%) who felt implementation of D&I policies in their companies had, in fact, gotten worse since the pandemic. Employees in BFSI (40%) followed by automobiles (38%) and consumer durable (35%) and health & pharma sectors in Bangalore, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune held on to this perception.
As for workplace discrimination, 27 % women, and nearly a quarter disabled and LGBTQ+ employees said that biases and discrimination continue to exist in organisations. Of these, 31% worked in limited organisations, while 28% were employed with family-owned businesses.
Not surprisingly, majority of employers (66%), especially in logistics, construction and real estate and auto sectors, believed that they had robust D&I policies and there was no need for further improvement. Some large businesses (27%) and manufacturing sectors (40%) across Pune, Chandigarh and Chennai, however, felt their D&I policies needed to adapt faster. Only 17% admitted that their policies were somewhat effective or not effective at all. Employers also believed they would see the positive impact of the policies in the long term, with 41% employers stating that they would see improvement in over a year.
In spite of organisations taking active role in hiring more women, when it came to departmental diversity, supporting functions like accounting, HR, front desk, coordinator, planner, etc, continued to see more women employeea. This was followed by technical roles and line function roles. Only 13% women were seen to rise to CXO and team leader roles.
“The biggest takeaway has been the dichotomy in perception between employees and employers with regards to organizations’ D&I policies. While we are better than where we were two years ago in terms in terms of awareness and better framing of policies, a lot of employees aren’t feeling this yet. And that’s something the organisations will have to work on,” says Sashi Kumar, Head of Sales, Indeed India.