Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is an increasingly important topic for organizations in Mexico, as it is for businesses in many nations. The specifics vary from country to country and from business to business, but no organization can ignore it.
D&I is the responsibility of everyone, but no one more than those of us who work in HR. That’s certainly true at Tecnológico de Monterrey, one of Latin America’s highest-ranked universities, where I serve as vice president of talent and culture.
Our president sets the tone for the university’s culture. That said, we operate multiple schools, hospitals, and other businesses across 31 campuses, and each of those organizations has its own leadership. Unless we want each organization to develop its own culture and its own disconnected approach to D&I, then HR has to be the one to ensure consistent strategies and policies.
Just as important, we need to combine our commitment to developing and continuously improving that culture with data and analytics that enable us to measure and understand our progress.
The frustration of discrimination
My perspective on D&I first developed in the United States. In the early 1990s I was studying for my MBA in Houston, Texas. I was also working for a bank as a financial analyst under a one-year work permit for foreign students.
A few months before my work permit expired, I asked HR if I could extend the permit and continue working at the bank. But they told me they wanted to hire other international employees. Because of my country of origin, they refused to even engage me on the topic, and I perceived this as discrimination, as did some of my work colleagues. I decided then that no one should ever have to experience the frustration of this kind of discrimination.
Later in my career I worked for a multinational organization and received a job promotion. I then learned that I got the promotion under a key performance indicator called RoW. “RoW” stood for “rest of world.” The company had set a quota for the number of employees from “the rest of the world” that should work at a certain job level. Again, I felt that no one should ever have to feel the humiliation of this kind of discrimination, and I decided that I would try to change perspectives on D&I whenever I had the opportunity.
Diversity and inclusion starts at home
Two aspects of D&I are key issues in Mexico: women in management and the hiring of people with disabilities. In large urban areas like Mexico City, multinational organizations have progressive policies for developing women in management positions. But in organizations in smaller cities, there are few opportunities for female executives.
Likewise, it can be difficult for people with disabilities to find employment. For starters, few companies have programs to recruit and provide opportunities for disabled employees. In addition, we lack infrastructure such as disabled access and transportation.
At Tec de Monterrey, we’re developing tomorrow’s leaders, both in Mexico and around the world. We believe it’s important to create awareness of D&I in both our students and the companies they’ll lead. After all, D&I simply makes business sense. Organizations benefit when they include every point of view and every ability contributing to their culture and their core competencies.
But change begins at home. Before we can promote D&I to external businesses, we need to demonstrate it on our campuses. The good news is that we’ve received tremendous support from our president and our management team to invest in D&I programs.
For example, over the past few years we’ve installed access and facilities to accommodate people with disabilities on our campuses. And we’re hiring more people with disabilities.
In addition, 50% of our workforce is now female. We’re also designing programs to make it easier for women to work as managers and directors. The culture in Mexico is that women should care for their families. After they have children, many women don’t pursue leadership positions or even return to the workforce. To encourage women to take leadership roles, we’re implementing policies that promote work-life balance and allow women to take more responsibility at the office while still having time for family.
Strength in numbers
As we pursue our goals for D&I, we’re looking to data and analytics to help guide our efforts. Throughout HR, we increasingly recognize that while there’s an important human element to what we do, there’s also data we can leverage to help us make the best decisions and take the best actions.
On the business side of Tec de Monterrey, we have 20,000 employees who use our HR systems to help set objectives and align with the organization’s overall strategy. It’s very helpful to be able to track and measure how managers are setting objectives, communicating with their teams, and handling performance appraisals – as well as how team members are complying, taking online training, contributing based on their performance, and so on.
Data and analytics have been integral to developing and improving Tec de Monterrey’s HR programs, including our D&I initiatives. Ultimately, however, D&I requires personal commitment. It’s the obligation of executive leadership. But it’s also the duty of us all. We should always ask ourselves, if I don’t take responsibility, who will? We already know the answer.
This blog is part of our Defining Moment series. At SAP, our higher purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. We are committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and moving #BusinessBeyondBias. To learn more, visit www.successfactors.com.