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Unity doesn’t mean uniform

By Nimmita Maharaj, Diversity and Transformation Director, Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric

by Tia

How do you effectively unite an increasingly diverse workforce when organisations are one of the truest representations of the sum of its parts?  It is a question that organisations, big or small have been grappling with for years. 

Businesses exist to pursue a vision which, in turn, is set of strategic objectives driven throughout the organisation. However, to realise this vision, a multitude of departments, disciplines and generations have to be united in one cohesive unit.

Successful organisations have the ability to clearly articulate desired outcomes that transcend the diverse nature of the business.  It is these organisations that establish a working environment that fosters growth, learning, innovation and inclusivity.

Nimmita Maharaj

Establish balance

Establishing a unified organisation can become a precarious balancing act which is why, when organisations embark on this journey, they must keep the following in mind:

  • Unity doesn’t mean uniform – it represents the acceptance of our differences and ability to use these it to grow both the business and the individual residing within the business. 
  • Vision, as mentioned, is the golden thread which encourages people to work towards an exciting common goal.
  • Common ground provides a culturally diverse workforce with a unifying environment that promotes teamwork and camaraderie.
  • Communication is the foundation which the above points are built on.  Employees must feel they have the opportunity to disagree in a healthy and constructure manner.
  • Agility provides the balance between unity and diversity, enabling organisation to constantly adapt to change and rebalance its operational environment.

Technology – a partner

Technology has a valuable part to play in creating a unified workforce.  Knowledge management systems, for example, can bridge the gap between a diverse workforce as it allows for the preservation and transfer of institutional knowledge.

Taking it one step further, knowledge management systems that leverage AI can digitally store and organise insights, making it accessible to the incoming generation. Cloud-based platforms facilitate the aggregation of transactional information which in turn create a corporate library which can be accessed by all employees.

The trick is to make all these insights palatable to all generations, ensuring that the knowledge is transferred in a succinct, tailored and impactful manner that meets the needs of all employees.

At Schneider Electric we have worked very hard to establish a unified workforce.  And our hard work has certainly paid off, Schneider Electric has been named a Global Parity Alliance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Lighthouse for its Global Pay Equity (GPE) initiative, by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Centre for the New Economy and Society.

This award recognises Schneider Electric’s efforts to promote inclusion and care by advancing pay equity across all our offices. Schneider Electric’s Global Pay Equity initiative began in 2014 with pilots in 12 countries. Since then, it has been implemented in over 100 countries, reaching 99.6% of our total workforce.

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