Stories of acts of gender-based violence and xenophobic attacks have in recent weeks and months dominated headlines in South Africa, bringing into sharp focus the need for us to come together to embrace diversity and recognise our common humanity.
South Africa is one of the most diverse nations in the world and while living in a melting pot of different cultures and creeds brings with it certain challenges, so too does it offer us an opportunity to wield our different races, languages and traditions as a powerful tool that can drive us forward.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
In the business world, diversity and inclusivity are no longer ‘nice-to-haves’. If companies are to stay relevant in the ever-evolving environment that they today find themselves operating in, then it is crucial that they have a deep, diverse pool of skills to draw from.
There is a mounting body of evidence that indicates a strong link between diversity and inclusivity in the workforce and a positive financial performance. Diverse, inclusive groups are better at identifying risks and companies which have been embracing diversity and inclusivity enjoy a lower staff turnover rate. Diversity and inclusivity promote increased creativity and innovation and are critical to harnessing a company’s full potential.
Diversity and inclusivity, however, are about more than creating an open and equitable environment that does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, culture or gender. It’s about truly embracing the different ideas, perspectives, skills and experiences brought to the table by all employees.
To quote the chief operating officer for Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, who is also a renowned champion for women’s participation in business, “We need to resist the tyranny of low expectations. We need to open our eyes to the inequality that remains. We won’t unlock the full potential of the workplace until we see how far from equality we really are”.
At my workplace also, Bombardier is a global organisation with an inclusive workplace and a diverse workforce. Bombardier is committed to providing a work environment free of barriers and biases. A place where independence and dignity are fostered for all employees, clients and stakeholders. It is key to the success and sustainability of our company. Our employees have created different ways to improve diversity and inclusion at Bombardier; different networks, committees and events.
At Bombardier, we believe it is also every employee’s responsibility to maintain a respectful work environment free of all discrimination. Bombardier has zero tolerance towards any type of harassment and/or discrimination based on: race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status, or any other protected category under applicable laws and our Business Code of Ethics.
Even though we experience natural turnover challenges as any organisation, we remain committed to the professional development and greater inclusion of female employees in managerial roles supporting profitability and sustainability of our organisation. We also embrace the role of women in broader society and work to promote gender diversity in the transport industry as a whole. Bombardier is a member of several different diversity associations operating within the aviation sector, including Women in Aviation International, and sponsors scholarships to support the development of women in the sector. In addition, Bombardier is an advocate for the Women in Rail community and the company participates in a variety of conferences and work sessions focused on supporting women in driving their careers forward.
Bombardier firmly believes that gender diversity and women in leadership are essential elements to our long-term success in South Africa. With the goal to make our operations in South Africa more attractive to female employees and encourage more heterogeneous teams, we are exploring the concept of launching a Women Empowerment Committee (WEC), to increase our involvement in Women in Engineering initiatives and to enhance the Prevention of Harassment in our organization and across our sites. These initiatives will help us to increase diversity and greater involvement of women, as together we move millions of people daily globally.