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By Frances Song, Marketing Manager, Top Employers Institute China
By Frances Song, Marketing Manager, Top Employers Institute China

Putting Diversity and Inclusion in the Heart of Employees

The Top Employers Institute HR Trends Report 2021 spoke about how social movements such as Pride Month, Black Lives Matter and alike gaining traction in public conciousness, employees are asking for more decisive action from their organisations when it comes to diversity and inclusion (D&I).

The latest data insights obtained from the Top Employers Institute HR Best Practices Survey showed that over 94% of Top Employer organisations in Asia Pacific have set D&I as part of the key business imperatives of their organisations.

To achieve this, it is important to see diversity from a cultural perspective. Simply complying with legal requirements is not enough. Instead, leaders should be proactive in making D&I a building block of the organisations culture and going the extra mile.

Culture Change

At Henkel, a global leading solution provider for adhesive technologies, beauty care, and laundry & home care, D&I is firmly anchored in the corporate culture where they actively promote it among their employees to foster an environment that welcomes and embraces different perspectives, cultures, and diversity of thought.

In late 2020, Henkel kicked off a talk series called ‘Diversity Talk’. Cross-functional business leaders were invited to join these virtual webinars to address topics such as why D&I is important, what they choose to challenge, along with the impact of gender stereotypes in the workplace among other topics.

“Diversity and Inclusion are firmly anchored in the corporate culture of Henkel. This is a must to build a high performance workforce. We are committed to providing a platform where women can feel confident to grow & develop professionally & personally. In 2020 up till 2021, we organized more than 10 sessions of Diversity sessions to increase the level of awareness in the organization. Moving along this journey, we will be organizing a series of Inclusion Workshops to bring to employees practical actions that they can do, to reduce or call out both conscious or unconscious bias of others. This, I feel as a company, is making it tangible for us to bring Diversity & Inclusion to the next level,” said Rajat Agarwal, President of Henkel Greater China.

Danone, a world leader in essential dairy and plant-based products, early life nutrition, medical nutrition and waters, serves a huge array of different communities with different cultures. Creating inclusive and diverse teams is at the heart of Danone’s future as the diversity of their teams represents the diversity of their customers. Therefore, the company’s ambition is to have each and every one at Danone feel included and able to contribute with their unique talents, entrusting them to drive the food revolution across the world.

“At our company, we call D&I as Inclusive Diversity because we believe that diversity is a natural consequence of inclusion when an organisation is inclusive enough,” said Kelie Shen, Talent & Learning Director of Danone Greater China.

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Employee Engagement

In 2019, Danone launched the ‘One Person, One Voice, One Share’ program to create an inclusive and transparent environment by giving a voice to each of their employees so that they can co-create and co-own the strategic goals of the company. This program engages all 100 000 employees in an annual strategic routine, during which they participate in a worldwide digital consultation to share their views on what Danone should be prioritising at local and global levels.

Additionally, each Danone employee is granted one Danone share in a dividend-sharing scheme, fostering an ownership mindset for all.

While the active involvement of employees is crucial, managers also play a key role in acting like role models for their teams. We find that there is still room for HR departments to improve, with only 50% of Top Employers in Asia Pacific consulting their D&I employee networks when developing HR practices on topics such as talent acquisition, leadership, communications, and organisational culture.

At Henkel, business teams take the initiative to host in-person panel discussions to discuss a wide range of D&I topics. For example, female leaders would share their experiences on the challenges of being a woman spearheading a team, trying different job roles, and deciding on one’s career path. New hires on the team are invited to share their impressions of D&I at Henkel – giving a fresh perspective for the team to help improve. The team also reviewed the key initiatives, targets, and current action plans for elevating D&I in the workplace.​​​​​​​

Female Leadership

In August 2020, Henkel D&I Asia Pacific team kicked off a Women’s Leadership Talk with the theme of “The Power of Women” for all employees in the region. This talk was the first of many campaign events that would be held in the upcoming year, which aimed to inspire leadership, highlight female leaders who influence innovation in Henkel and instill a culture of gender equality in the workplace. 

Danone also sees the great importance in offering equal opportunities for women and men in all roles and at all job levels. Currently, the share of women in leadership positions in Danone China is 53.8% (data source: Danone Great China Leadership Dashboard. By 2021/4). They are also working to implement a gender-neutral, global parental policy – from the start of a pregnancy to the baby’s second year of life. This parental leave goes beyond the basic legal framework present in China.

Conclusion

While D&I remains a work in progress, we are glad to see that Top Employers have intensified their D&I activities in the recent years, working towards a more diverse working environment that could not only boost the business performance, but also make their employees feel more engaged, respected and valued.