Rajeev Bhardwaj, VP, Human Resource
Our workplace is where we spend almost one half of our life. After our home (some would argue, even before), workplace is the focal point around which our lives revolve. In fact, a workplace should be like a second family where every member, no matter what his or her origin or background, must feel at home. It is also a place that should teach its members, who represent it in the outside world, the absolute importance of ethical behaviour.
Why ethical behaviour and respect for diversity is important for a workplace is a subject often talked about. However, very few organizations make a deliberate and concerted effort to imbibe these two values into their blood by formalizing policies around it. Human resource professionals generally tend to be focussed on the short term ahead, target issues of immediate importance like hiring, retaining and placating. Not many reflect the foresight of looking ahead to construct an organizational fabric that cherishes diversity and make ethical behaviour the hallmark of its culture.
In today’s world of free flow of people and brain, work communities can no longer afford to be monolithic. The diversity that people of multiple origins bring to an organization is immensely enriching. The term diversity itself is an all-encompassing term that may be used to refer to the characteristics in individuals which make them all unique and different from each other. Not just race, color, gender, caste or sexual preferences, even individual personality traits add to the diversity of an organization. Some employees will be more adventurous, and advocate risk taking while others may be more cautious and may suggest safer routes. Some may be brilliant in ideation yet lax in implementation; others may be better executors.
The moral responsibility of an organization is to make sure each individual is respected for his or her abilities and not discriminated against for any reason whatsoever. The majority group should not be sidelining or undermining those in minority, men should not exercise an upper hand over women employees, or an employee’s sexual orientation doesn’t become the subject of ridicule! An organization’s work culture should be cultivated to ensure complete assimilation and acceptance so that the environment is congenial for all.
The question of assimilating diversity and using it to advantage is a burning question in many countries of Europe like France, Germany, Cyprus, Sweden etc which have witnessed a huge influx of migrants from across the world. These migrants who are providing valuable workforce to people starved nations are undoubtedly an asset to these countries. Yet, often the growing diversity presents difficulties in the form of cultural differences and preferences leading to arguments. Socially, some of these countries have seen a rise of a radical right in response to an influx of immigrants. In debt-ridden Greece, for example, an anti immigrant radical right party attracted much negative attention across the world when it offered free food to hundreds of struggling people of Athens, but strictly excluded foreigners from their aid programme.
A workplace in some ways is a microcosm of a nation, representing multiple kinds of people all under one umbrella. India is not new to diversity, yet our behavior often reflects tendencies of racial discrimination. The problems faced by people from the north eastern states in Delhi, is a case in point. An organization however should ensure that its employees do not carry such attitude to the workplace or when amongst their colleagues outside workplace. Similarly an organization’s reputation in client and customer circles has got a lot to do with work ethics and moral guidelines followed there. If your organization works by ethics, its reputation is bound to reach places much ahead of it.
An all assimilating work environment enhances productivity: If your workplace has good assimilation policies where people from all backgrounds are treated well, it will have a positive bearing on the total work environment. The more belongingness your employees feel with the organization, the more wholeheartedly they will contribute to it. Having a diversity-friendly set-up therefore helps enhance the productivity of individual employees and the entire organization.
Cultural Diversity Enriches Individuals & the Organization: Diversity doesn’t just bring together apples and oranges; it also brings together their respective cultures, practices, beliefs and work ethics. This amalgamation provides a wonderful cauldron from where new ideas and systems will originate. Working and living in a culturally diverse place is always enriching for individual employees, and it stimulates the thinking and ideation process.
Ethical Practices Mean Happy Customers: Apart from effective result delivery, what customers and clients look for in a service provider is reliability, trustworthiness and honesty. If a client trusts that you will be ethical and morally driven in whatever transactions are conducted, or whatever deals are struck, their trust will substantiate into their willingness for a longstanding and sustainable relationship.. Since, no organization desires to lose business it is imperative to understand that ethical practices help companies retain clients and produce a long-term relationship.
Adherence to Work Ethics Translates Into a Good Image: It is often stated that reputation – both good and bad – precedes a person. The same is true for an organization as well for which a good word of mouth is always desirable. In a world where unscrupulousness tends to be the norm, ethical behavior, in all streams, always impinge positively upon people. If your employees are ethical in dealing with the customers, the clients, and even fellow industrywallahs, this will translate into a good image for the company outside.
Good Reputation Attracts Good Human Resource: While your dealings with customers and clients will determine your image as a service provider; the way your employees, present and former, associate with the organization, will determine your reputation as an employer. A good and enriching work environment is what most people look for, apart from remuneration. This means the organization will attract good human resource from across the industry. There is no doubt about good human resource being a company’s biggest asset.
We at Sun Life believe in acting ethically and fostering a work environment that reflects the vibrant workforce; unique and diverse but having oneness in the way they relate to the organization. We here celebrate the life journey of our employees that is to say, we believe in making the tenure of every employee one of the best days of his life, by ensuring that his/her individuality is respected and no discrimination is there on the basis of caste, creed, religion, place of origin and beliefs or any other aspect for that matter. We have a robust Code of business conduct to guide our employees and also ensure that the managers by virtue of their position act as ethical role models. And because of this diversity of workforce and the emphasis on ethics, Sun Life is now going to complete 150 years: a glorious past and a bright future ahead. That is why we say, ’Life is brighter under the Sun.’