Gurpreet Grewal – Expert Insights

D&I: You can’t have one without the other

While “Inclusion” and “Diversity” are often used interchangeably, the two mean completely different things and in my view, diversity without inclusion is meaningless.

By Gurpreet Grewal, Regional Head of Human Capital & Organisation, Asia

We are all aware of the benefits that Diversity and Inclusion, (D&I) bring to the workforce. The evidence speaks for itself and so does the everyday experience of businesses across the world. Companies committed to D&I are better equipped to innovate and drive performance, provide more opportunities for all and have greater access to talent.  However, the two words are often discussed together and as a single entity thereby diluting the significance of both aspects.

According to the American entrepreneur and publisher of Forbes magazine, Malcolm Forbes, “diversity is the art of thinking independently together.” For businesses this means employing from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds, including a fair mix of race, gender, age, ethnicity, education, socio-economic groups, abilities, religious beliefs, political associations, and sexual orientation. This enables an organisation to make decisions based on a broad range of information from a diverse range of people. 

Put quite simply, “Diversity” is a noun and “inclusion” on the other hand, is a verb. Inclusion is the how, the strategies and behaviours that create, welcome and embrace diversity. Best summarized by renowned inclusion strategist Verna Myers, “Diversity is being asked to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance.”   

Without a doubt, inclusion is the only scalable way to build diversity within an organisation. Without the thoughtful and deliberate discussions on how to cultivate an inclusive environment, the energy and resources spent on recruiting a diverse workforce is wasted. 

We, at Generali Asia, are passionate about building an inclusive workplace, ranging from effective communications, training, employee engagement activities and mentorship. Focus is not on conducting multiple training sessions and talks on D&I but instead we “walk the talk” and make an attempt to create a corporate culture that embodies inclusion and diversity. There is also significant focus in reducing “silos’ and hierarchy in our offices. Some examples of practical inclusion strategies Generali Asia has implemented include: 

1. Develop our leaders

Leaders play an instrumental role in fostering an inclusive culture because employees need to see that inclusion is a core competency. Our leadership development programs are designed in a way that requires inclusion for success. 


2. Celebrate employee differences

By inviting employees to share their differences you are showing that you respect their backgrounds and traditions and they should be encouraged to share them in the workplace.  The regional office of Generali Asia based in Hong Kong has employees from 18 nationalities; and mobility of talent across different countries in Asia and Europe has also contributed to creating a positive corporate culture.  


3. Listen to employees

This is about creating a culture that is authentic to your brand and meets the needs of your employees. The employee engagement survey conducted once in two years encourages the employees to express their views and we are extremely serious in analysing the results and create tangible action plans to address different viewpoints. 


4. Promote communication

Looking at ways to create an environment where contributions from everyone are considered – the Generali Workplace launch has helped create an informal communication channel for all employees. Efforts are to ensure that communication is not only top down but should in fact be holistic.


5. Involve employees to design interventions to build employee engagement and a desired corporate culture

The DnI initiatives identified by Generali Asia are an outcome of employee focus group discussions and the implementation of these initiatives is the responsibility of an Employee Resource Group. This also helps to consolidate employee engagement.


6. Modify our processes including talent acquisition 

We are committed to ensuring that there is 100% female representation in identification of profiles for all vacancies in the organisation.


7. Women’s Mentoring Program  

This project is being launched in 2019 to support young female talent in the organisation with a clear focus on inclusion of female and male leaders as mentors. 

At Generali, we are committed to promoting a culture of inclusion that celebrates people’s uniqueness and all kinds of diversity. We believe that an inclusive environment encourages all employees to thrive and contribute their best work and we enjoy the benefits that a diversified workforce brings to everyday life at Generali.