How SMEs can achieve diversity

For smaller businesses, the focus is more on survival, and therefore, the diversity agenda is neglected.

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People from different races, genders, ethnicity and geographical locations working together to achieve a common goal can make a whole lot of difference. Diverse perspectives, ideas, creativity and increased productivity are only some of the advantages of a diverse workforce.

But is all this big talk of diversity only meant for the larger organisations? Shouldn’t smaller companies also take diversity seriously?

Small enterprises generally have a workforce of not more than 40 to 50 people. When the company is small, the leaders do not really have the time to think about diversity at the workplace. They are busy making sure that the company survives the next quarter. Many of them even manage to function without an HR head, forget about a diversity officer, which is a popular designation in big multinationals today.

“I would not want to set a number, but smaller enterprises should also start focusing on diversity after a certain point of time,” says Kinjal Chaudhry, SVP-HR & head of operations, Paytm Services.

It is not only the big companies that benefit from diversity. It can work wonders for smaller organisations as well. But the question is, how?

Ashish Pinto

“People think only about gender diversity, whereas we can actually achieve diversity at all levels by maintaining ratios of different kinds”

To begin with, the organisation has to first make sure that it has a very strong culture. The principles on which the culture of the organisation stands, should be clear in each and every employee’s mind.

The next step is for the company to analyse the hiring process of the organisation. It should try to point out the biases in the hiring process and remove them. During this process, it has to avoid being accusatory, and treat it as something that everyone needs to be aware of.

To be very frank, there is no different formula for smaller companies to achieve diversity. It comes purely from skill-based hiring and respecting each and everyone in the workforce.

In addition, smaller organisations can partner with bigger organisations they are doing business with and also get in touch with organisations, which give employment opportunities to different genders, races, ages and differently-abled people.

Kinjal Chaudhary

“There is no formula to achieving diversity for big and small organisations. It totally depends on skill-based hiring. And be very careful not to attach numbers to it, otherwise it will look more like reservation than diversity”

According to Ashish Pinto, group head-HR, Balaji Telefilms, the ratio of diversity depends on the demands of the business. A company operating in the security space will find it difficult to achieve gender diversity because customers will not want women as bodyguards.

“There is no formula to achieving diversity for big and small organisations. It totally depends on skill-based hiring. And be very careful not to attach numbers to it, otherwise it will look more like reservation than diversity,” cautions Chaudhary.

Pinto adds, “People think only about gender diversity, whereas we can actually achieve diversity at all levels by maintaining ratios of different kinds.”

It is high time small businesses started focusing on diversity at the workplace. As we all know, achieving diversity is a journey for all. How early you want to start your journey depends entirely on you.

“As a business, you have a diverse customer base and to cater to the needs of these diverse customers you will need to have a diverse workforce,” concludes Chaudhary.