The Storm That Changed It All

By Pouruchisty Sidhwa

2020 was a year where the world experienced an unprecedented turn of events.

As I brainstormed what I wanted to pen down today, I realized that this year clearly saw two significant shifts simultaneously; on one side, the world saw a rapid digitization of almost every part of our personal and professional lives, while on the other, we witnessed an evident need for greater social interaction compelling a return to what makes us more human, such as the power of communication, the capacity for creation, compassion, and empathy.

As organizations battle the impact of the global pandemic, one thing is for sure – this storm has changed us all forever. From business models to our people’s strategy, to the way we establish a culture, things are becoming radically different. The pandemic has left organizations with the need to adapt and adjust many factors, keeping in mind the challenge of building a sustainable model that can withstand identical crises in the future.

During the last few months, the importance and immediate need of putting people at the ‘heart’ of digitization have come to light quite clearly.  Organizations must address a set of diverse and rapidly changing needs of their most important business assets – people, without any reference points or test cases.

Humans, by nature, are resilient and adaptable; they are the real catalysts for any change, especially digitally. They determine every aspect of business operations, including value creation. The way people, or more specifically customers, engage and interact with one another determines organizational strategies as well as their implementation.

People both externally as well as internally hold the keys for any business to grow and prosper. Employees and customers alike, create parameters that plot the trajectory and orientation for the company. And in this regard, the role of employees has been shown to have a greater role.

Bearing this in mind, it is time for organizations to shift their attention towards creating a culture that defines their personality and what makes it different from others. But why culture you may ask? Think of culture as a bottom-up approach that starts with one’s self at its core, then moves to team levels, and finally to the organization as a whole.

Culture has been a buzzword in the corporate world for several years, but this year’s digitization evolvement has revealed the critical role culture plays in making companies successful. Beyond basic steps, lots of organizations make the mistake of not taking the time out to listen to their employees. The organic value of culture comes from practicing and staying true to the values that a company says it stands for and understanding that dialogue is powerful in establishing a culture.

In a successful organization, cultural shifts are usually in response to external and internal changes, and most of the time it takes challenging circumstances to remind businesses both large as well as small of how deep the culture of a company really is.

We need to understand that a strong culture isn’t about scoring a bullseye in one shot, but it is a continuous process that enriches learning and development at every turn. Organizational culture is hooked to its ability to make the words on paper meaningful and translating the intangible into something that has worth and is impactful.

Everyone will have experienced this pandemic differently, meaning that the definition of diversity and inclusion and what it means to an organization is now different too. If there’s one thing that this year has made clear, it is that organizations with strong diversity and inclusion practices have made steering through the storm look easy.

So, what exactly makes an organization diverse and inclusive in the new world?

Take diversity in a workplace as respecting and appreciating what makes our people different such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion, education, and/or origin. Inclusion, on the other hand, includes an organization’s efforts to make employees of all backgrounds feel welcomed, and equally treated. We need to start building environments that help people (no matter where they are), feel included, and that their unique experiences and values are recognized.

A diverse team can foster innovation, offer a range of perspectives and ideas, improve employee performance, and bring out a variety of skills throughout the organization. Hence, it is critical for an organization to encourage putting diversity and inclusion into effect.

Since digitization, habits, attitudes, and actions have changed to a certain degree, but society is now acknowledging newer challenges, which is putting forward a new set of communities. With the new world, there is an ever-growing need to be diverse and inclusive.

In times like these, where change is accelerating, it is time for employees and organizations to be resilient, innovative, and responsive to the new world. The pandemic, and the monumental changes that have come with it, have put the motion to all the above practices. So, if you haven’t given them much thought before, now is the time to focus your attention.

Pouruchisty Sidhwa is the Chief Human Resource Officer at Telenor Microfinance Bank/Easypaisa.

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