DIVERSITY IN AN ORGANISATION
The recent diversity stats released in 2015 by corporations like Google, Apple and Facebook have sparked debates around the world demanding explanations on why leadership roles are being dominated by whites. Shareholders have demanded that there be inclus
Qatar Today explores the challenges the country faces when it comes to disparity in the recruitment process.
Qatar, a developing country that has been diversifying itself into sectors such as sports, research and investment opportunities abroad, has attracted a more expanded and eclectic workforce, so Qatar is a country rich in cultural diversity, more so than any other countries I have lived and worked in,” says Elizabeth Fleming, Managing Director of Qatar Development and Consultancy Centre. “Cultural diversity has been in Qatar for many years; historically, the pearl industry brought trade and with it diversity. Qatar holds traditions and moral values of its own while allowing many nationalities in to support its growth and I believe they do this well.”
In most multinational companies, there is an obvious difference between the ethnicities hired for various jobs. “It is both unlawful and inhumane to discriminate based on race. I have always witnessed choices in the workplace based on competence and confidence. However, as a world citizen, I believe the media has a large role to play in creating misunderstandings and unnecessary scaremongering that would affect decisions within and beyond the workplace. The media tends to evoke fear in those that have little education about the world they live in and this is very dangerous and damaging,” explains Fleming.
Qatarisation has been a priority in recent
years making it quite difficult for talented expats to rightfully earn their place in the hierarchy of an organization. The younger generation of Qataris is making a difference to the system by getting the right education required for jobs based on their interests. “Like every other country that needed to step up when needed, Qatar nationals will make the necessary changes to support the vision of Qatar. During World War II many European countries had to enlist female employees which had never happened previously; from managerial jobs, to labourers to farmers, females had to support their families and if their spouse or father died, they had to continue to do this; This changed society and society adapted because it had to. Qatarisation is necessary and Qatar too will respond to the necessary changes it will need to make; it is human nature to support what needs to happen to move forward as a nation. It should be noted that I have met some of the most wise, considerate and intelligent business people who are Qatari; there is balance in all societies with regard to education,” adds Fleming. There is also disparity in salaries earned by expats in Qatar who form the majority of the population in this country. A British passport holder earns more than an Asian employee even though they put the same time and effort into working their way up the ladder. “I understand this practice was based upon attracting candidates to apply at the most economical price and the cost of their living while residing in Qatar. However, this practice remains inequitable and I would hope it has been replaced with capacity to deliver the role requirements, irrelevant of race. Having said that, there are some roles that specify race for visa purposes and have a set remuneration package, so in theory it may be a continued practice for visa reasons,” explains Fleming.
Big corporations like Facebook and Google believe that inclusion and diversity play a key role in creating a more open and connected world. According to the company's recently released diversity report in 2015, the white working population at Facebook stands at 55% in the US whereas Asian, Hispanic and blacks come up to 36%, 4% and 2%, respectively. Similarly at Yahoo!, reports show 50% are white and 39% are Asian; Latinos make up 4% of the workforce and blacks account for 2%. Releasing Apple's diversity report, CEO Tim Cook said that he was not happy with the numbers. Maxine Williams, Global Director of Diversity at Facebook, announced diversity is central to Facebook's mission of creating a more open and connected world. “It's good for our products and for our business. Our work is producing some positive but modest change and our new hire numbers are trending up,” She said.
“It isn't easy to have 2,000 employees from 42 nationalities”, says Ramesh Prabhakar, CEO of Rivoli Group. “We have a great team that we work with. It is very important to have diversity in the team. Firstly, you stop being judgmental. When you work with a group of people, you tend to see where anxieties are, where positivity is and you understand that people react differently because of circumstances, origins, etc., Secondly, it adds a flavour, people have different thoughts and ideas. I have assistants from Slovakia, Poland and Britain. Coming from India, when I say I have to visit my great grandfather's house, they are surprised. It is a truly global feel to work with different people and there is a lot to learn from each other.”
Diversity has a different meaning when
it comes to various generations. Being inclusive and welcoming of the many cultures that exist in today's world has been difficult to accept by the older generation. The millennials (also known as Generation Y), however, have their own sense of diversity – 83% are actively engaged when they believe that their organization fosters an inclusive culture when compared to the non-millennials.
Speaking about the influential factors through the hiring process, Fleming says “Education and language have always provided a greater opportunity for those who wish to influence others, specifically in business. As a female entrepreneur, I have never felt my gender was an issue, nor my being of Christian origin. I have always been inquisitive about cultural and religious norms (this is part of my anthropological education) and coupled with my curiosity, I have found Qatari nationals open to respectful discussion to gain insight into one another's world – that is the beauty of diversity, mutual learning.”
Communication challenges play a major role in the recruitment process in a company. In Qatar, expats come from countries like Russia, Slovakia, Korea, Philippines, China, India, Europe and the US to make a living which also makes for a great working environment only if one is accommodating enough to listen and be heard. “Most key decision makers are Qatari, but then we are in Qatar so I would expect and support a Qatari national to steer a business in this country, as the outcomes of business and the future of the country are on their shoulders. I see expats as stewards and supporters of businesses that are growing and developing the country,” says Fleming.
The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence research report released by Deloitte and Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, states that as Generation Y floods leadership ranks, they strive to be inclusive. They are much more concerned with cognitive diversity, or diversity of thoughts, ideas, and philosophies, and in solving business problems through a culture of collaboration. For millennials, inclusion isn't just about getting people of different creeds in a room. It's about connecting these individuals, forming teams on which everyone has a say, and capitalizing on a variety of perspectives in order to make a stronger business impact. When asked about the business impact of diversity, millennials are 71% more likely to focus on teamwork compared with 28% of nonmillennials who are more likely to focus on fairness of opportunity. Millennials believe that programmes aimed at diversity and inclusion should focus on improved business opportunities and outcomes as a result of the acceptance of cognitive diversity, specifically individualism, collaboration, teamwork, and innovation
ELIZABETH FLEMING Managing Director Qatar Development and Consultancy Center
RAMESH PRABHAKAR CEO Rivoli Group