Under normal circumstances, though organisations have undertaken multiyear investments, they have not made as much progress as they would like with regards to workforce diversity, especially in the leadership ranks.
Questions about who is accountable for workplace diversity, how to source diverse talent and how to manage diversity have stunted efforts.
As part of a youth employment campaign, Edward M Kennedy (EMK) Center organised a virtual session on this topic on Tuesday.
The session focused on discussions about how managers and leaders understand the link between diversity, equity and inclusion and business outcomes.
Alanna Levenson, team accelerator and leader coach – a representative of People and Communities (HR) at Cisco, was the key speaker at the session.
The session kicked off with a welcome speech from Asif Uddin Ahmed, acting director of EMK Center.
Professor Imran Rahman, special advisor to the Board of Trustees of ULAB, and Joshua W Camp, cultural affairs officer of US Embassy in Dhaka, also participated in the session.
"Diversity is who is in the room, equity is who is waiting to join the room, and inclusivity is who can hear," Asif Uddin Ahmed remarked.
Joshua W Camp said, "Today in the US and across many countries, people are working together to create a world free from discrimination. We are not there yet.
"At some points in our life, we might be proud of the actions we took. It might reflect our way of talking to our colleagues, other people… But we have to act decisively to treat people fairly and with dignity regardless of age and gender. We need to speak up, be welcoming and encouraging to others."
Ms Levenson started the session with a presentation on how she ensures diversity in her work at Cisco.
"Trust is something we talk about a lot within our organisation. It is very important to connect with human feelings," she said.
"In a study, we tried to find out the top three drivers for people's motivation. We found employees feel fulfilled after using their everyday energy at work. They also feel a need to develop themselves. Secondly, they care about psychological safety, freedom to share and talk. And the last one is shared value."
"The importance of branding and networking has been emphasised in the post-Covid era. We have learned this from all the speakers in this campaign," said Asif Uddin Ahmed, in a response to a question asked by an audience.
He also said relationship and personal bonding are very vital. Besides, there are lots of opportunities to learn about inclusivity. Young professionals can look for those to build their mind-sets.