Beyond reflecting a company's social commitment, diversity and inclusion have proven to be key to success, with a direct impact on productivity and creativity. Organizations that bet on them improve their performance by 17% and are 20% more innovative , according to Deloitte. Furthermore, ethnically and culturally plural companies are 36% more likely to be more profitable than those that are not, according to McKinsey. And for those corporations with gender diversity, this percentage stands at 25%.
Despite the emphatic nature of these figures, Mexican companies still face the challenge of assimilating them and putting them into practice. Although nearly half of the companies in the country are aware of the need to strengthen their inclusion strategy, only three out of ten have implemented policies in this regard , says PageGroup. To help them in this transition, new technologies and innovative talent management practices are emerging as tools against discrimination and with which to achieve tangible benefits.
Diversity = added value
"The best way to increase your results is to get closer to what your consumer needs, and to understand it, it is essential to internally reflect the social reality . The market is diverse. Therefore, if we can replicate it within the company, there will undoubtedly be an impact positive in the business," summarizes the Chief Human Resources Officer of Coca-Cola FEMSA, Karina Awad, who adds to the advantages of diversity the possibility of accessing "all the talent that exists outside."
It is about adopting the widest possible perspective to discover the priorities of the clients , the most appropriate language and connect with them more easily. Failure to do so is equivalent to "destroying value" for the company, warns the vice president of Human Resources for Unilever Latin America, Placid Jover.
For example, an everyday object such as a bottle of deodorant can be difficult for people with arm disabilities or osteoarthritis to handle. But, when designing the product, this aspect can be overlooked, unless there are people in the process aware of it. "They have the insight that allows you, as a brand, to offer something very interesting to society, " says the executive.
Once you understand this value, how do you begin to apply it? For the director of Operations, People and Organization of 3M for Latin America and Mexico, Isela García, the priority is to establish clear objectives based on data , because "what is not measured cannot be improved". In his case, the goal of doubling the levels of diversity in the workforce by 2025 compared to 2015 has been defined. Based on the monthly monitoring of these data, he activates a cascading strategy, where awareness begins at leadership levels and it goes down throughout the entire organization.
In this section, it is necessary to remember that, due to its sensitive nature, collecting certain data related to diversity can become a complicated task. In fact, the Inter-American Development Bank highlights, in a recent report, that "there is no information on the racial or ethnic composition of the workforce" in Mexico, and that few companies provide figures on the presence of "minority groups and vulnerable" in their ranks.
On the contrary, it is common to find data on the presence of women and studies that delve into the exclusion suffered by certain groups. An example of this is the latest National Survey of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred). In it, 30% of people with disabilities interviewed, as well as 20.9% of indigenous people, stated that one of their main problems is the lack of opportunities to find employment .
Bearing in mind that "there is diversity that is not going to be" in any set, progress must be made in "giving the data the power it has", that is, analyzing it in depth to draw useful conclusions without "remaining in the averages" , specifies the head of Coca-Cola FEMSA. He adds: “Today I can say: I have this representation of women in leadership roles. But where can I see their performance evaluations compared to men? Or the trends of the last few years and if there are promotions or not? ?That's when I really have a chance to use big data in a useful way."
Inclusion starts from the moment a job offer is conceived and published. " Job descriptions can be difficult for job seekers to understand and often incorporate biased language that can deter applicants," says Luis Vidrio, Director of Sales for the international job portal Indeed.
But no matter how careful you are, your choice of words can influence your attractiveness to men and women . For example, an article from the Harvard Kennedy School (USA) points out that terms such as "competitive" or "leader" are often associated with male stereotypes; and others like "understanding" or "interpersonal", with the feminine ones. To prevent descriptions from dissuading women or underrepresented groups, some experts recommend rereading them from their point of view and having them reviewed by a diverse group before posting.
Once the talent search process has begun, it is possible that the professionals who participate in it maintain unconscious biases . Among them, the affinity bias (recruiters are inclined towards profiles similar to theirs) and the confirmation bias (conclusions are drawn from the candidate that reaffirm their own prejudices).
Vidrio points out that there are ways to limit them, such as providing specific training to recruiters and including candidates with different roles and backgrounds on interview panels. Also conduct structured interviews with predefined questions and criteria , in which all candidates are evaluated equally.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can help recruiters filter by skills, but "it is necessary to understand that the technological bias of algorithms also exists," clarifies the director of Indeed. Therefore, automation should always be seen as an aid to human evaluation and decision-making, but never as a substitute , he adds.
Other available resources are blind resumes, in which some of the personal information of the applicants is eliminated, such as name, gender and year of completion of studies. This "forces us to look at that person in a more holistic way," emphasizes the Unilever manager, and points to gamification tools as a way of assessing the skills of candidates.
According to his experience, "sometimes we make decisions that are not optimal due to our biases, and that has a cost for the company. When you recruit many people, as we do in large companies, there is the impact and the opportunity of not only about doing the right thing, but about ensuring success as a company ."
An inclusive environment
In Mexico, women face more obstacles than men in the labor market. This is demonstrated by the fact that, a year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, they represented 71% of the people who had not yet returned to work due to the impact of the crisis. In general terms, they only account for 39% of the Economically Active Population, according to the latest data from Inegi. And, as if that were not enough, only 15% of the companies in the country have women in management positions , a percentage that drops to 8% if we talk about the profile of CEO.
Along with the basic measures to promote gender equality, such as zero tolerance for gender violence, the promotion of the same job opportunities and equal pay, there are other actions that can be implemented. Indeed's Sales Director in Mexico mentions the creation of emotional salary plans, with which, for example, a childcare service is provided to women with children. Likewise, leadership programs focused on women and one-on-one sessions can be carried out where company directors act as inspiration for other female employees.
In the opinion of the 3M leader, more flexible work models, which "put the employee at the center, with work options that suit them" and facilitate the reconciliation of their personal and professional life, also open the door to more inclusive spaces within the organization, both for women and for other groups. In addition, he considers it important to work on "sensitivity and dialogue with direct supervisors" , which contribute to creating an environment of trust for the team.
Awad also highlights the importance of holding focus groups to listen to employees and open communication channels, taking advantage of "any possibility that technology gives to access where the employee is and collect their opinions and concerns."
One of the challenges that will intensify in the coming years will be the inclusion of the most veteran workers. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that population aging will cause the ratio of eight workers for each retired person to drop by half .
The ultimate goal of age-related diversity is to bring together the so-called "five generations" — from trainees entering the workforce to employees age 65 and older, says Jover. Therefore, "we will have to figure out how to personalize the employment experience for each of these segments," he adds.
In turn, this change will require new practices so that seniors are not left behind and adapt to new digital work processes. A good way to make intergenerational coexistence enriching is reverse mentoring , with which the younger staff acts as a guide for the seniors, changing the paradigm of classic mentoring.
For García, the key is not to segregate workers and foster a climate of "cross knowledge" in which age is not important, but rather the experiences that each person can contribute . And sentence: "All generations have something very valuable to share in an organization."
Although many Mexican companies have already embarked on the path towards corporate diversity, they face the challenge of integrating these different points of view and recognizing the value of diversity , putting into practice tools and measures that guarantee inclusion in the teams. The success of this mission will depend not only on achieving better corporate results, but also on creating an environment of integration that brings benefits to all employees.