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In 2017, James Damore, a former employee at Google, authored a controversial memo arguing for a lesser emphasis on gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. The memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”, reflected the organisation’s diversity and inclusion problems – highlighting that 69% of Google’s workforce were male while 56% were white. Google was also making it to the headlines for discrimination against female employees by underpaying them around the same time. 

The memo is controversial because it made several stereotypical arguments nudging for less empathy in workplaces. Amidst the controversy, the memo questions the role of free speech in creating a safe and inclusive work environment for all employees. 

While a progressive work culture focuses on bringing in new perspectives and sharing opinions safely, stereotyping and harmful assumptions can topple the cultural foundations of an organisation. 

Naturally, the language we use, the stories we tell and our daily practices at work all contribute to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace. Meesho is one example of a people-centric and empathetic organisation whose Chief Human Resource Officer, Ashish Kumar Singh, delves into the practices that make a workplace safe and inclusive. In this post, we talk about: 

  • The mantras for inclusion 
  • How to frame forward-thinking policies at work
  • The role of health benefits in creating an inclusive workplace

Pillars of inclusion

Employees should be pioneers of inclusion in the workplace. But the first step begins with leadership teams and employers representing the organisation’s values and principles. This guides employees in culture building and organisational transformation.

Once the foundational principles and values are set, it becomes more natural for employers and founders to create policies at work that serve their team members the best. For instance, Meesho’s people-centricity and user-first value have helped create some of the most inclusive policies at work. 

At Meesho, the recent initiatives like championing the work from anywhere trend, and being amongst the first two companies to roll out the gender-neutral parental leave policy, including LGBTQ and live-in partners under the family definition, is something I’m proud of.

ashish kumar

Weave your core values and policies in every aspect of your organisation’s process – hiring, measuring for performance appraisals and promotions, rewards and bonuses. This helps employees understand that core values and inclusivity form the basis of many crucial organisational decisions.

Progressive policies for a progressive workplace

Take Reddit, for instance. A quick internet surf will show you that one of Reddit’s core missions is to improve its employee experience primarily through its Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) goals. The work has revolved around appointing diverse leadership, inclusive recruitment and assessing employee resource groups (ERGs). 

Its ERGs have cultivated a space for employees to develop educational resources and interactive programs whilst also building a healthy, supportive and inclusive community for everyone working at Reddit. This has enabled Reddit employees to invest in personal and professional development through various sources.

Progressive policies are a linchpin for building employee relationships based on mutual trust and respect. This results in more positive and fruitful relationships at work, doubling into improved productivity. But that’s not the only pros of forward-thinking policies. They are also signs of a work culture that is more humane and values the sentiments of its employees.

Ashish feels that the art of crafting such policies for your team is a two-fold process. The first step is to benchmark with the best employers worldwide. This means understanding employee programmes that directly impact employee wellbeing, learning the role of compensation and work-life balance, and providing perks and benefits that protect the employees’ interests at work. 

The next step, promote the culture you want to imbibe internally. This translates into acting on the values you’ve chosen for the organisation, finding and partnering with culture champions at work who personify the organisation’s values. 

Leadership teams and HRs play a crucial role in building inclusive policies at the workplace because they are the employees’ voices. Ashish recommends adopting a problem-first approach to determine employees’ problems through pulse surveys, regular feedback and transparent communication.

At Meesho, we have a solid user-first mindset. For HRs, user-first is the employees’ voice and feedback. Secondly, a problem-first mindset where we can pinpoint the problems employees are talking about plays a critical role. No proposal at Meesho is ever approved without gathering the employees' feedback.

ashish kumar

Health benefits and their correlation to an inclusive workplace

The relevance of health benefits and insurance has never been more prevalent. Organisations have begun crafting comprehensive health care policy plans to help their employees feel protected during unprecedented times. As a good thumb rule, it is ideal for introducing new covers that are inclusive of everyone’s lifestyle and preferences as your teams grow. 

When crafting a health benefits policy for your team members, there are several things to consider. Start by gauging your policy against that of your peers. Chances are you will notice aspects of work culture that are unaddressed. Follow your findings with industry data and standards. This becomes a good starting point to work with as you get the lay of the land. 

And lastly, make the intent of the policy-making process known to your team members. This will help you solve problems that would come about during the policy formulation process. 

The bottom line

Fostering inclusion at the workplace is the first step in making your employees feel comfortable at work. It’s one of the best-kept open secrets to building committed teams who bring their best selves forward. Proactively tackling cultural challenges at work and optimising policies that cater to everyone’s needs intentionally go a long way. 

Meesho partnered with Plum to create one of the best group health insurance policies for its team members. Its value-driven culture is an inspiration for companies across borders.

If this post has inspired you to take action and build inclusive policies for your team members, you’ve come to the right place. You can start by speaking to one of our experts who will help you find a health policy that fits your team’s needs.

Check out the entire conversation with Meesho here.

If you like what you read, check out our previous blog post with Sameera Khan, the Director of People Success at inFeedo, who talks about employee morale at work. 

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