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International Women's Day Special

Mar 07, 2022

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we look at how recognition helps in creating a culture of inclusion in today’s hybrid workforce. 

How Recognition helps in Creating a Culture of Inclusion

The future of work is inclusive.  As we celebrate International Women’s Day, 8th March 2022, we look at how recognition helps in creating a culture of inclusion in today’s hybrid workforce. Women specifically have taken a lot of responsibilities since time we have switched to working from home. Managing work priorities along with family has taken a different meaning for women in the new remote/work from home culture.

To grow and thrive in today’s changing business landscape, organisations must build inclusive cultures where every employee, irrespective of gender, can bring their authentic selves to work. Be it working remotely or from office, recognising inclusion becomes such a core to modern day work culture.

There are many factors that go into building an inclusive culture but perhaps the most powerful way to inspire inclusion is through recognition.

Here are three ways recognition builds a culture of inclusion

  • Employees feel valued when they are recognised. In our 2020 New Rules of Engagement® study, we found that 80% of employees who were told they make a difference at work in the past month felt like they belonged versus just 58% of those who were not given any praise. To make recognition even more meaningful, offer it in written form. In the same study, we found twice as many people felt included when they were given a note, e-mail or other form of written recognition within the past month. At BI WORLDWIDE, we ensure recognition is all about breaking the biases and driving belongingness towards the organizational culture. Recognising and appreciating women associates is part of high performing culture and something that makes this organisation a great place to work.

Here’s what Aarthi Shankar from our Global Technology Solutions Team has to say about feeling valued and belonged through recognition:

"Be it the peer-to-peer recognitions received from my team members or manager discretionary recognitions- they have kept me energized, and motivated me to do more, making my BIW journey fulfilling, meaningful and a feeling of being inclusive in a diverse workforce. Recognitions in any form creates a sense of happiness as we feel that our efforts are being valued. I had an opportunity to share improvement ideas to the leadership team as part of winning a special recognition called the Extra Mile Award. I feel a sense of belonging when my voice was being heard and my ideas being actioned” - Aarthi Shankar

  • Recognising inclusivity prompts more inclusive behavior. Inclusion is not built from a single point of contact – employees need to engage in inclusive behaviors daily. We know from our research there are several key behaviors that lead to an inclusive culture. We also know that what gets recognised will be repeated. As a company, it’s best to create a consistent set of behaviors that align with an inclusive culture and your organisational values. Then, recognise those behaviors whenever they are seen. Help you employees succeed at various stages of their career, specifically women employees and their career pathing are so critical and can be aligned by identifying the key behaviours and expected outcomes.

Here’s what Roshni Kumar, Product Management Director shares about how BI WORLDWIDE helped her succeed in her professional journey through consistent recognition and inclusivity:

“Many women take time off from work for pregnancy, childbirth and childcare responsibilities, and the penalties for taking time out of the workforce are high! As per a survey, women who took just one year off from work earned 39% less than women who did not. I returned to office after 6 months of maternity leave because I did not want to give up on my career. However, I was scared to balance work life and personal life. Every working day becomes a challenge when you have an infant at home, but some days were particularly more challenging - days when I had to put in extra hours to complete a deliverable, days when I had to travel to different city for meetings. But in hindsight, I never felt burnt out, like most women during this phase. The magic was regular and prompt recognition from managers and peers for my work, it made all the effort seem worthwhile. Also, after I returned to work, I didn't feel discriminated in terms of salary increment or growth opportunities given to me. I even got a promotion in the subsequent year. I felt that the organization wanted me to succeed”. - Roshni Kumar

  • Recognition draws people together. It’s well known that gratitude improves social relationships and strategic recognition creates gratitude for both the giver and recipient. The recipient is grateful to have been noticed and recognised by a colleague. The giver is often showing thanks and appreciation for something the recipient has done. Recognition can enable connections between people on the same team as well as people who otherwise do not interact often, who may not have met or who may be at different levels of the organizational hierarchy. Recognition also draws gratitude towards growth and career progression through positive repeat behaviours.

Here’s what Deepika Nandakumar, CFO, BI WORLDWIDE India shares about how being recognised and respected for her leadership traits as a women leader within the organisation helped her break the biases:

“Recognition, at its core, is a form of respect and trust, and for me that's fundamental. I feel as a woman, it's not easy to earn respect. So, when a woman gets respected at work, this also gives one a sense of fulfillment outside of work (home). BI WORLDWIDE India has given me the recognition as well as the responsibility of being the CFO & a board member. Statistics show that only 4.7% of women in India are CFO & 17% hold board seats. With women being underrepresented in c-suite roles, I feel a sense of pride and inclusiveness to have been entrusted with such an important role & a seat at the table in BI WORLDWIDE. Recognition at the workplace especially for women can immensely help strengthen self- confidence & motivate to achieve greater things in life.” - Deepika Nandakumar

That’s not all. Another women leader, Ruchi Bhatnagar, Business Development Director at BI WORLDWIDE India shares her experience of how recognition helped her exceed her own expectations and made her excel in her career: 

“Recognition has helped me evolve in organizations and roles I have had in the past 20 years. I felt deeply motivated and acknowledged every time I was appreciated for my contribution, whether it was the smallest idea or a landmark milestone. I recall a project I was spearheading, where my solution transformed the entire service standards in that organisation. My leadership recognised and asked me to execute this Pan India. I felt not only electrified, accountable but also an integral member of the organisation. My perspective changed from doing a task that was assigned to me, to taking on more responsibilities, to being a part of the change that can make a difference to my workplace. From working for an organisation to being an entrepreneur, a change maker and calling it “My workplace”.  This built a stronger bond with my organization, a feeling of pride, striving to do better with each passing day, raising my own benchmark, breaking my own records, and creating an infectious environment around me of breaking boundaries.” - Ruchi Bhatnagar

Although recognition is just one tool for creating a culture of inclusion, it is a powerful one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Its power stems from impacting inclusion in three ways: helping employees feel valued, reinforcing inclusive behaviors and building connections across the organization. 

Organisations need to recognise and reward women leaders, who are driving growth and business results. They need to do the deep cultural work and make commitment to create a workplace where all women feel valued, engaged, and inspired. An inclusive work culture will result in creating highly committed, highly engaged and high performing woman-force!

How can you start leveraging recognition to create a culture of inclusion? A good way would be to start recognising the behaviours which helps you build an inclusive culture. Here are a few to consider:

  • Outstanding Contribution, for showing someone how their job makes a difference
  • Collaboration, for making connections with those around you
  • Expanded horizons, for learning something new, personal growth or helping another grow
  • On the Rise, for career growth or advocating for another’s career growth
  • Boldly transparent, for leaders who share important information
  • Do the right thing, for anyone who is honest and ethical
  • Got your back, for those who support and help one another recover from a mistake
  • It’s not all about us, for those who put another’s interest before their own
  • Think outside the box, for those who suggest crazy ideas
  • Keep an open mind, for those who value all perspectives and take crazy ideas seriously
Excerpts taken from the original article by Amy Stern, Managing Director, Research and Strategy, BI WORLDWIDE

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