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  • Shikha Patnaik

Developing More Women Into Leadership Roles

The Basis Bay Experience

Am I a diversity advocate? I believe strongly in social justice. Part of this journey involves educating myself and those around me about what it means to increase diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace.

Companies benefit from diversity if the workplace is psychologically safe and there are systems and processes in place to address discrimination of any kind. It involves embracing different styles and traits employees may bring to the workplace as well as acknowledging cultural differences as well.

The impact of diversity advocacy

A diversity advocate is someone who emphasises a commitment to promoting awareness about this issue as well as creates engagement around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).

An advocate is brave and understands that change takes time. They are willing to experiment, open to making mistakes and to being challenged. They consider the different barriers that people face.

Their impact towards DE&I in the organisation can be felt in a few ways:

  • An advocate focuses on how they communicate, using inclusive language and avoiding stereotypes and biases as much as possible

  • An advocate seeks long-lasting change by focusing on systemic action

  • An advocate believes they can make a difference. They take action, are proactive and lead the conversation

  • An advocate provides support. They want to help those who may be historically under-served and realise that these groups may need support and rely on collective action

  • An advocate is brave and understands that change takes time. They are willing to experiment, open to making mistakes and to being challenged. They consider the different barriers that people face

  • An advocate continually keeps informed about these issues

  • An advocate is willing to confront individuals and groups who may disparage or negatively target others at the workplace.

When inclusion is present

That said, the biggest impact is delivered when DE&I is embraced by the leadership.

Diversity is easy to achieve and can be seen. You can measure it. But the more important element is inclusion. The lack of inclusion can create anxiety and leads to toxic work cultures.

Inclusion is felt when people feel valued and respected and have access to opportunities and resources. Inclusion is felt when everyone is able to contribute their perspectives and talents to move the organisation forward.

Therefore, if corporate leaders embrace DE&I, it will be felt by all.

And the presence of a DE&I advocate signals to all that the leadership truly believes and supports the initiative. In our organisation, we have long paid special attention to ensuring diversity and inclusion in our recruitment efforts. We are proud to share that 50 percent of our senior management team comprise women.

Retaining and developing women into leadership roles

There are a number of things that organisations can do to retain and develop women into leadership roles.

1. Ensure that there are enough women role models, leaders and mentors

Even in today’s corporate world, we are still looking for more role models for women leaders. Without these role models, women may feel unsure how to behave or respond in given situations with peers or leaders. They may even conform to the ways male leadership is represented.

At Basis Bay, we understand the unique challenges women face, as young adults, as mothers or more. By ensuring a significant number of women in our senior management team, we have laid the groundwork for providing an adequate number of women role models and leaders from within.

2. Pay attention to the recruitment, on-boarding, retention and development of women leaders

For Basis Bay, it begins with recruitment. We focus on how we recruit, our messaging and ensuring a good fit especially during the on-boarding phase. We work closely with our teams.

By keeping an open door policy and ensuring two way communication, our female talent feel assured enough to come forward to address whatever challenges they face from time to time.

We take a personalised approach which may require more time and effort. But in the long run, it pays off in terms of happy employees who are willing to go all the way in supporting the work we do.

3. Create a culture of flexibility

What the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that employers need to and should trust their people to deliver. Of course, as a provider of essential services, not everyone has the ability to work remotely.

Even before the pandemic, we had built in flexibility, allowing staff to incorporate shifts where needed. A focus on performance has always meant less emphasis on clock-watching and more on outcomes.

These are just three of the initiatives that Basis Bay has implemented to ensure that the female talent we bring in and develop into leaders are successful and happy.


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