Barriers & solutions to scaling DEI across APAC

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In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, companies around the world are faced with the challenge of scaling diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives across their various and vastly different markets. To address this crucial topic, we recently hosted a Global Executive Round Table, where we were joined by executives from SMBC, WPP, Asahi, Mitsui, Schneider Electric, Astrellas, and Criteo to discuss these challenges and provide practical strategies to overcome them. 

The top challenges attendees’ shared were:

  • Cultivating sustainable growth amidst leadership changes
  • Addressing cultural differences across APAC
  • Breaking free from male-dominated hierarchies
  • Tailoring solutions to diverse contexts in the region

Here are three key strategies to empower organisations to address these challenges and achieve success in their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives:

  1. Know Your Starting Point: Conduct an assessment of the maturity levels of DEI initiatives in different locations (our DEI Maturity Evaluator can help you with that). Tailor your approach and programs accordingly, taking into account the unique challenges and opportunities present in each region.
  2. Establish a Clear Call to Action: When launching DEI initiatives, provide a clear and concise call to action for employees. Be explicit in outlining the desired outcomes, such as active allyship, speaking up, and proactive cultural change. A focused and well-communicated objective can significantly impact employee engagement and participation.
  3. Be Mindful of Local Context: To maximise the impact of your DEI initiatives, consider the local priorities and context in which you operate. Tailor your programs to align with the specific needs and cultural nuances of the APAC region or any country-specific setting, ensuring greater relevance and effectiveness.

Tailoring DEI Initiatives for Success: Insights from New Relic’s APAC Regional Approach

We also heard from our client, New Relic, who shared invaluable learnings and the impactful outcomes from our recent engagement in developing a tailored program for their APAC leadership team.

Motivations for a Regional Approach

New Relic recognised that a uniform approach would fall short of achieving optimal results. They understood that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) differ among underrepresented groups and are influenced by unique cultural nuances across regions and countries. With a deep understanding of the importance of context and progress, New Relic made a strategic decision to address DEI through a diversified lens. They embraced the need for tailored and mindful initiatives in each APAC location, that would ensure maximum impact and relevance.

Key Impacts and Successes

  1. Increased Understanding and Confidence: Prior to launching their program, New Relic conducted a survey among employees to assess their comprehension of key DEI concepts. The results were eye-opening, revealing where there were opportunities to improve  understanding. After implementing the tailored initiatives, subsequent surveys demonstrated improvements in employees’ confidence levels around diversity, equity, inclusion, and allyship.  
  2. High Engagement: New Relic observed remarkably high engagement levels during their DEI workshops. Combining in-person and remote sessions in different APAC countries, they fostered an environment conducive to meaningful dialogue and vulnerability. By incorporating pre-work and post-work activities, they cultivated a culture of active participation and openness among employees.
  3. Strengthened Connections: Delving into aspects that often go unaddressed, such as the concept of “outsider,” the tailored DEI initiatives encouraged team members to share their lived experiences and engage in conversations about difference. This experience deepened team connections and a increased a sense of empathy and understanding among colleagues.

By recognising the diverse nature of DEI and tailoring programs accordingly, your organisation can also benefit from increased understanding, high engagement, and strengthened connections among your teams. 

If you’re considering embarking on a similar journey, our team of experts is ready to assist you. Contact us today to gain insight into your organisation’s starting point and how to effectively scale your DEI efforts.


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