Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru coined the phrase “unity in diversity”, in his book Discovery of India to describe India’s united front in the struggles for Independence. Despite its diversity of languages, faiths, castes, and creeds, the country was born with a strong sense of unity among its citizens. But what the aftermath of the Independence, the partition, and the riots and the massacre in the name of religion had deeply inscribed a scar in our history.
Since then, our country’s fate had been put through the diversity test countless times. Many citizens emerged with a lesson out of those, many didn’t. Today, that is clearly reflected in every sphere.
With globalization, the point of Diversity and Inclusion has been brought to the forefront. The organisations, government or private, haven’t stopped just with the reservations. They have brought forth many policies to nurture a space of inclusivity.
Yes, the legislative measures have been enforced, the policies are here. But the real question is how much progressive our collective mentality has become to actually drive diversity and inclusiveness?
When the question of fostering an equitable workspace arises, many simply focus on increasing the “representation” of women, embracing the rainbow pride flag and forming a quota for persons with disabilities and members from the minority community. What no one talks about is the actual perception of acknowledging them as contributing team members over just mere “representation”? There is no doubt that in every stratum there has been one gender, one class of people has been dominant. That dichotomy needs to be broken. But before that, the representational view must be re-envisioned.
A person from the minority section does not need to be constantly reminded that the minority tag weighs more than the individual’s merit. There has been robust research supporting that a diverse workforce drives productivity. With the data in hand, many organizations have placed clear support systems to boost diversity. But behind the shiny veneer of pride parties and women’s day celebrations, falls the shadow. At the end of the day, people go back to their homes, with prejudices in the back of their minds.
You may say that the curse of racism, chauvinism, narrow-mindedness won’t go away in a day. It will take years of work. True. But the work needs to be done, not at the stage where people are “forced to accept” because policies or laws say so, but when all of us are taught to be human first.