Creating inclusive workplaces in an Asian market
A government agency is tasked with ensuring that small- and medium-sized enterprises practice inclusiveness in the workplace.
In a relatively small Asian country, staff members of certain small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were lodging complaints with the government. They felt that they had been unfairly treated in both recruitment and developmental opportunities, and often deemed their workplaces as not being inclusive. Retention rates in these SMEs were poor and recruitment costs were a burden.
The government agency that was receiving the complaints asked Aperian Global to design an approach for resolving the situation. We discovered through interviews with the SME management teams that many owners and human resource personnel did not see the links among retention, recruitment, company reputation, and an inclusive workplace.
A program that included workshops and site visits was designed to build awareness of the potential positive effects of inclusiveness on staff and on the businesses. The government agency offered the program for free to SME management teams in order to create more inclusive workplaces. Every company that signed up for the program had to attend two 8-hour sessions, one month apart. In between the two sessions, Aperian Global consultants paid 90-minute visits to each SME’s premises, interviewing staff members and reviewing the physical environment.
More than thirty SMEs participated in this program over the course of two years. All organizations made concrete efforts to make their workplaces more inclusive. The attendees were coached to champion the inclusion cause and overcome resistance to the changes they wanted to implement. Subsequently, some of these organizations received media attention for their efforts, and a few even won national awards.