Earlier this year I contributed to and reviewed a research paper – Examining Diversity & Inclusion From an Asian Perspective. The study was conducted by Community Business, a Hong Kong based organisation. The countries included in this study were Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Japan and China.
A previous study was a precursor to this paper. One of the findings was that diversity and inclusion in Asia are often considered western concepts that are sometimes at odds with local cultural norms and have little local relevance in the Asian context.
The purpose of this study was to:
- Explore how relevant the concepts of diversity and inclusion are in Asia;
- Uncover key diversity and inclusion dynamics at play in the different Asian markets;
- Provide some recommendations for organisations to adapt their diversity and inclusion approaches that resonate locally.
This a very insightful paper that contains some really strong data and recommendations to support companies in their D & I strategies and approaches within the Asian context.
There were many interesting discussions in this paper, particularly the question “Is D & I a western construct.” The findings were that the majority of respondents agreed that it is a western concept – China (58%), Hong Kong (55%), Japan (61%) and Singapore (61%), India being the least at (21%). Interestingly, the Chinese and Japanese languages have no indigenous words for ‘diversity’ or ‘inclusion’, therefore the loosely translated words can be difficult for people to relate to. As each country is considered in their own context, the findings are an accurate display of the key D & I dynamics within each particular country included in this study.
Improved awareness of unconscious bias, greater transparency and continuous auditing of management processes, greater understanding of the importance of face, hierarchy and harmony; and addressing the assumption that proficiency in English equates to professional expertise are just some of the dynamics that this paper identifies.
The paper highlights the need for organisations to rethink their current D & I strategies, and the value of facilitating discussions with key stakeholders on the ground. Organisations must invest resources to support engagement with these key stakeholders in a bid to gain accurate understandings of the most pertinent issues at local levels. Only through this exposure can these issues be addressed in a culturally appropriate methodology.
Click here if you would like further information on this paper.