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Asia Dialogues forum says diversity, inclusion must be connected to business outcomes

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NEW DELHI: SpeakIn has launched Asia Dialogues with a diversity and inclusion event. this is a forum that intends to build conversations on topics of urgent and immediate focus for the Asian region by bringing people together for progressive discussions on issues important for Asian businesses, governments, media and academia.

Later in the year, Asia Dialogues will gather experts from across countries to engage on topics like Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Sustainable Finance, Digital Transformation and Climate Change.

The event was organised by SpeakIn in partnership with HDFC ERGO’s Sharing Circles, which is the general insurance company’s sustainable initiative aimed at true inclusivity. It had a keynote address by Sunam Sarkar, Executive Director, President and Chief, Business Officer, Apollo Tyres. The panel discussion included Renee Tan, Business Transformational Leader, MD, HashTaqs; Alexander Krasavin, Chief Commercial Officer, Human Capital Solutions, APAC at Aon; Sudakshina Bhattacharya, Chief Human Resources Officer, HDFC ERGO General Insurance; Arvinder Gujral, Former Managing Director (South-East Asia) of Twitter; Anthea Collier, Managing Director (APAC) Randstad; and Michael Brown, award-winning author and entrepreneur based in UK.

Deepshikha Kumar, Founder and CEO, SpeakIn, moderated the discussion. The themes covered by the speakers included cognitive diversity and bias, and creating a safe and secure environment for people to thrive at the workplace. It underlined how organisations can grow to their full potential when there is equality and zero bias.

The event recognised top 10 diversity and inclusion champions from the Asian region for their contribution in furthering the cause. They included Sophie Guerin, Alisha Fernando, Preeti D’mello, Duncan Hewett, Lynette Pathy, Nandini Sarkar, Bianca Stringuini, Kaveree Bamzai, Daniel Clarke, Angel Kilian.

Commenting on the first edition of Asia Dialogues, Deepshikha Kumar said, “We have always been at the forefront of dialogues on matters that can not only initiate the change but drive the business, social and policy ecosystem overall. The intent behind Asia Dialogues is to bring forth much-needed discussions on a wide array of topics that can impact the world’s largest continent that Asia is.”

Speaking of the event, she said, “Our expert speakers not only stressed the need for cognitive diversity but shared how it needs to be included from the very beginning of employee experience.”

In a statement Sunam Sarkar said, “For the full potential of D&I to be unleashed many myths about it need to be busted, among them the notion that it means lowering the bar and that’s a barrier we must get rid of.” Diversity, he said, is like being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance.

Arvinder Gujral, Former Managing Director (South-East Asia) of Twitter, in a statement said, if organisations cannot connect diversity and inclusion to eventual business outcomes, D&I remains an amorphous concept. “While we try to remove long years of unconscious bias and accept D&I, it is time to to look beyond diversity only in terms of colour and creed, we need to embrace diversity of opinions in the objectives and key results of our organisations. That’s real diversity and inclusion,” he added in the statement.

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