• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

What makes us different, makes our organisations stronger

What makes us different, makes our organisations stronger

PART ONE – A look at the Current State of Play in Nigeria
Did you know that Nigeria is one of the most diverse countries in the world? Nigeria is made up of over 180 million people from distinct ethnic groups with unique historical experiences, more than 250 languages, and different ways of life. Despite this, in a global diversity and inclusion survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Nigeria ranked 45th out of 47 countries on the global diversity readiness index. Nigeria’s low survey score reflects the nation’s challenges in managing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) despite its abundance of diversity. This, coupled with evidently weak or non-existing institutional inclusive plans makes DEI an important topic in every workplace. Over the next two weeks, we will be discussing the value of DEI in the workplace and providing some key takeaways for you to implement within your organization.

DEI is a ‘hot’ topic in the Western world right now, with research indicating that a diverse workforce acknowledges that people differ in a variety of visible and invisible ways. These differences result in more informed decision-making, better business results, and more diverse, equitable and inclusive organisations. However, what does DEI mean for Nigerian businesses and why should it be taken seriously?

Read also: As Nigeria’s economy globalises, we need to talk about workplace racism

Before we go into details, it is important to define what we mean by the terms diversity, equity and inclusion. Diversity refers to “the collective mixture of differences and similarities that includes for example, individual and organisational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviours” (SHRM), equity is “the act of ensuring that processes and programs are impartial, fair, and provide the best possible outcomes for all individuals” (BuiltIn), while inclusion “helps to ensure that employees from diverse backgrounds are able to contribute, remain with the company and flourish” (SHRM). Together, DEI is vital to creating and maintaining a successful and innovative workplace; one that is built on the principle that all people can thrive both personally and professionally.
Current State of Play in Nigeria

In Nigeria, workplace diversity largely implies the following organisational practices: job opportunities with no age limitations, absence of gender discrimination during recruitments, management teams and boards with reasonable female representation, recruitment of individuals with diverse social and life experiences , recruitment of people with a disability, installation of required amenities in offices, equal employment opportunities for graduates of universities, technical colleges or polytechnics, having an older workforce with retirement based on declining productivity and a desire to retire, rather than age, and broad ethnic and religious representation within all employment categories. There is a compelling business case for DEI to be embedded into organisational strategies in Nigeria. This will mean different things to different businesses, and work needs to begin where there is the greatest need or where the greatest impact can be seen.

For starters, having age restrictions attached to many entry-level job opportunities should be reviewed. Some graduates have to work and save money to pay for their education, leading to late entry and late exit from the university. There is still discrimination present for women with technical qualifications in male-dominated fields. Largely, women also remain under-represented in management positions and senior positions. It is also evident that ethnic and religious biases exist, with many being passed over for jobs and career development opportunities due to having different religious beliefs or not looking like the rest of the organisation. Additionally, it is often seen that older workers legally change their birth year in order to delay retirement. Generally, this is due to the fear of boredom and/or loss of vital income upon retirement.
Part two in next week’s issue.