Diversity Equity Inclusion is not exclusive to big corporate, it is something companies or organizations of any size can put into practise. Where can we even start?
Firstly, take the current state of your employees. Ask yourself some of these questions, do your employees have equal chances to advance? Do your employees represent different religions or different political views? Do your employees have different backgrounds in education, home life, and economic class?
Hiring practices play a crucial role. Companies need to ensure their hiring process is free from bias and inclusive, attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds. This is akin to using quality seeds for a bountiful harvest. What kind of languages you are using in the hiring ad? Is there any wordings that favour a particular gender or identity? Or is there any specific term that would stop certain people to apply for the role?
Being in Hong Kong, we know Cantonese is widely used in our daily life but does that mean the candidate must speak fluent Cantonese for the hiring role? If you put “Fluent Cantonese is preferred” on the job ad when the role doesn’t require any Cantonese, you are limiting yourself away from a certain group of talents.
Are you demonstrating openness to diverse team? Are you showing your DEI initiatives in your job post? Are you considering diversity beyond just gender? How about race, age, sexual preference? Would you reach out to particular underrepresented group to find talents?
Training can equip employees and leaders with the necessary knowledge and skills to foster and sustain a DEI-focused environment. Organizations require training to shed light on unconscious biases, promote inclusive behaviors, and cultivate a culture of respect and understanding.
In everyday conversation and work, communicate openly the benefit of DEI. At Womentors we laugh and act playfully on our difference but we also celebrate the benefit of our staffs being different from each other. Each of us have our core competence as well as weakness. Having a diverse team even with a handful people, can have our skills complementing each other shortfalls.
“Bias” is a neutral word. It doesn’t make us bad people to have biases. For example I was beaten by a dog when I was young. So I always have biases on any dog - this helps me flee away from danger when I hear dog barking. If I’m not aware of this bias and believe all dogs beat, then it wouldn’t do me any good. That’s why we need to build awareness to our own biases and learn how to fight against unconscious bias so we are making sensible decisions.
Lastly, culture-building is the soil in which DEI can take root and grow. It involves creating an environment where all employees feel valued and included. Frequent engagement activities, open communication channels, and recognition of diversity can fortify the sense of belonging among employees, boosting morale and productivity. Celebrate success and festivals that matter to the team members. Break some stigma to talk about sensitive topics such as fertility and menopause. Cultivate a work environment to encourage different perspectives and ideas. Allow more bonding among staff members and start building employee resources groups that enable them to develop friendship beyond purely work. Even enough SMEs may feel they do not have the resources and influencing power in making impact in the eco-system, simply choosing the right vendors with similar value and beliefs can help bring positive impacts to the society.
There are over 360 000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong. They constitute more than 98% of our business establishments and employ more than 44% of our workforce in the private sector. Their vitality and business performance are of crucial importance to the development of our economy. So if SMEs are taking some form of Initative in DEI and gender equality, Hong Kong can take one big leap forward in building a more inclusive society.