Inclusion in the Workplace: Making Everybody CountBy Miriam Bello | Thu, 10/14/2021 - 18:41
You can watch the video of this panel here.
Diversity and inclusion go beyond policies, programs or headcounts. An equal working environment outpaces its competitors by respecting the unique needs, perspectives and potential of all team members. As a result, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and more commitment from their employees, generating better social and professional outcomes.
Diversity and inclusion often stay as words so the challenge for companies in Mexico is to transform the speech into everyday reality. Companies have not realized that to move from words to action they should generate different approaches, perspectives and responses. Workplaces need to encourage an environment that redefines the way employees perform professionally and in society, said Denisse Cazú, Regional HR Director LATAM of Mattel Latin America. “This environment needs to be based in respect and foster a culture that follows three core behaviors: curiosity, braveness and connection.” These three behaviors foment others to listen and learn from different ways of thinking. Braveness is to “have the courage to feel uncomfortable, because it challenges us to grow,” said Cazú.
Inclusion and diversity are not a logo, a banner or a trend. “Diversity is important. We should promote it starting from the family to governments,” said Ana López Mestre, Executive Vice President and General Director of American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico. “However, we all have a chance to generate more inclusive spaces. It begins with individuals and escalates to corporate and national acceptance.” Diversity at the workplace guarantees more competitive and resistant businesses, with enriched opinions, training, beliefs and different experiences that contribute to corporate growth, she added.
Diversity goes beyond gender. “It also regards socioeconomics, sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Courtney Devon, CEO & Founder of Runa. To guarantee the integration of different groups at the workplace, Devon recommends measuring inclusion by the changes it generates for the company.
Mover, businesses must integrate diversity into leadership positions. “Most offices have focused on gender equality but this is not enough. Leadership directories in Mexico only show a 7 percent of women in them,” said Devon.
While many argue that diversity should be mandated by law, government mandates are not the ideal starting point. “The origin of our problems is not the government,” explained Daniela Muñoz, Founder & CEO of ioio. “Governments are often a reflection of society and we have seen that societal movements have the power to change what they do not like in their governments.” Regardless of having prohibitive laws or not, “if we, as society, do not change mentally, nothing changes,” said Muñoz. To promote diversity, humans should recognize that they are equal but not the same: “we are diverse but not different in the core. Diversity is what makes a society rich and what really makes the word more equal.”
The initiative to change requires an open-minded thinking and a willingness to learn, said Jorge Alejandro De Lara Novella, VP & GM Global Commercial Services LATAM of American Express. “By doing this, we can communicate and create an environment in which we all feel comfortable being authentic. We must lead by example,” which means identifying if recruiters are hiring those similar to them. Recruiters must put those preferences aside and break those paradigms to promote faster changes. However, “Mexico does not have a formal leadership position in organizational structures that supports diversity and inclusion,” says De Lara Novella.
Employees should be part of the discussion on diversity. “One of the fundamental steps to begin breaking the ice on inclusion is being able to ask people what makes them more comfortable, simple things such as ´what are your pronouns?´” said Jorge Luis Garduño Camarena, Ethics and Business Integrity Manager of Sanofi México.
Leadership plays a fundamental role too, the change can be seen from top to bottom but if management is dominated by white men, from there on the representation can be limited. Mexico ranks in second-to-last place in bridging the wage gap and participation of women in the workforce, said Devon. However, diversity can be essential to the growth of a business, which is what happened to Runa in raising capital, said Devon. “We drew more attention because we were different and had a diverse mindset and will for inclusion.”
Vulnerability in the workplace tends to be seen as negative but companies and employees should not be afraid to be seen as vulnerable, said Muñoz. “Vulnerability creates collectivities and they have the power to change.” True change is not about equality, which is giving everyone the same and ignoring the historical gap of cultures, it is about equity, which means giving everyone what they need. For instance, Muñoz refers to the LGBTQ+ community, which when asked when they will stop protesting answers: “We will be visible until the guarantee of our rights become normalized. When our freedoms are practiced and respected.”