Unlocking the Power of DEI in the Asian Workplace

Businesses across Asia are increasingly mentioning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) (opens a new window) in their conversations, acknowledging the importance of creating a work environment where every employee’s unique background, experiences, and perspectives are valued and respected. In Asia, where diverse languages, religions, and customs intersect, DEI initiatives are crucial for bridging cultural gaps and fostering understanding.

By embracing diversity and promoting equitable practices, organisations in Asia can better acknowledge and appreciate the valuable contributions of employees from different backgrounds. Careful development of DEI initiatives imparts this message to employees and at the same time takes into account cultural norms and values that have shaped a country’s populace, noteworthy examples being Japan and Korea.

Here are five powerful ways in which DEI can drive benefits for workplaces:

  1. Increase Employee Engagement and Productivity: DEI initiatives foster an inclusive and welcoming environment, where employees feel valued and respected for their individuality. When employees feel included and supported, they are more engaged and motivated in their work. This boosts productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.

  2. Enhance Talent Acquisition and Retention: Organisations that prioritise DEI become magnets for diverse talent. Individuals actively seek inclusive work environments. DEI initiatives help attract and retain top talent from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. By embracing diversity, organisations can tap into a wider talent pool, leading to a more diverse and dynamic workforce.

  3. Improve Employee Well-being and Mental Health: DEI initiatives promote a sense of belonging and psychological safety, which positively impacts employee well-being and mental health. When employees feel supported and included, they experience lower levels of stress and anxiety. Fostering an inclusive culture that respects and values employees' identities creates a healthier and happier work environment.

  4. Enhance Innovation and Creativity: Diverse teams that embrace DEI bring a wealth of perspectives, ideas, and experiences to the table. By encouraging diverse viewpoints and cultivating an inclusive culture, organisations unlock innovative and creative solutions to challenges. The different perspectives and experiences of employees contribute to rigorous problem-solving and better decision-making processes.

  5. Better Customer and Client Relationships: Organisations that prioritise DEI gain better understanding of diverse customer or client bases. Employees from diverse backgrounds offer unique insights and perspectives that cater to a broader range of customers’ needs and preferences. By reflecting the diversity of their customers, organisations can build stronger relationships and create more inclusive and culturally competent products and services.

To succeed with DEI initiatives in Asia, it is crucial for organisations to understand the specific nuances and challenges related to the region before adapting them for their businesses. Over and above gender, generational and marital status considerations, this includes addressing issues of caste, ethnicity, language, and regional diversity unique to the Asian context. By tailoring DEI initiatives to the local culture and context, organisations can ensure that employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best.

Strategies for Effective Integration of DEI into Employee Benefits

Incorporating DEI into employee benefits can be a complex endeavour for companies. Concerns about legal exposure may create hesitation, but the risks of not taking action are significant. To navigate this challenge, it is best to start small and conduct a thorough investigation.

Step 1: Conduct a Diversity Audit of Current Benefits

Identify gaps and opportunities for improvement in your employee benefits by conducting a comprehensive diversity audit. This will enable you to better understand the unique needs of your diverse workforce and design benefits that are truly inclusive.

Step 2: Involve Employees in the Process

Include your employees in the process of designing employee benefits by actively seeking their feedback and ideas. This collaborative approach ensures that benefits are tailored to the specific needs of your workforce, leading to greater employee satisfaction and engagement.

Step 3: Partner with Diverse Suppliers

When selecting vendors for your benefits program, prioritise diversity. Working with diverse health and wellness suppliers, for example, allows you to offer benefits that address the specific health needs of different employee groups.

Step 4: Address Unconscious Bias in Benefits Design

Create benefits that are neutral and free from stereotypes to confront unconscious bias in your organisation. For instance, offering parental leave to all employees, regardless of gender, helps challenge stereotypes around caregiving. Implement structured interview techniques and eliminate discriminatory questions during the hiring process to further address bias.

Step 5: Embrace Flexible Benefits

One-size-fits-all plan designs are the antithesis of DEI. Boost your DEI efforts by providing flexible employee benefits that cater to the diverse needs of your workforce, especially in the area of life stage and dependent coverage. Consider options like flexible work schedule or telecommuting to accommodate different cultural and religious practices.

Step 6: Provide Ongoing Education and Training

Continually educate and train your employees on the importance of workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the role employee benefits play in supporting these efforts. This ensures that everyone is aligned and committed to creating an inclusive work environment.

By embracing DEI initiatives, organisations unlock numerous benefits, including improved employee engagement, talent acquisition and retention, well-being and mental health, innovation and creativity, and better customer/client relationships.

Let Asia's rich cultural heritage drive inclusivity in your organisation. Celebrate different festivals, incorporate cultural practices into workplace policies, and provide language support for employees from different linguistic backgrounds. By prioritising DEI, business leaders in Asia can create a more inclusive and equitable work environment that benefits both employees and the overall success of the organisation.

Please visit our People Solutions (opens a new window) page, or contact Lockton for more information.