From Perception To Reality: Advancing DEI In Global Workplaces

King Husein, Founder and CEO of Span Construction and Engineering, believes that women, given opportunities in the right positions, will excel, and as the older generation's traditional notions pass, the younger generation, with the aid of technology, will have more open avenues


Photo Credit : Deseret News,

In a world striving for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), workplaces around the globe are undergoing a transformative journey. King Husein, an Indian American engineer and the founder and CEO of Span Construction and Engineering, has witnessed this transformation firsthand, having navigated the complex landscapes of both India and the United States. His unique vantage point, as an individual with Indian origins working as a minority in America, provides a lens through which we can explore the evolution of diversity, equity and inclusion, both in perception and reality.

Over the years, the shift toward inclusivity has been remarkable, with many organisations endorsing the principle of embracing diversity in their ranks. However, a vital distinction emerges between perception and reality. While on paper, companies may advocate for inclusion and check the DEI boxes, real progress is often impeded by deep-rooted societal and cultural biases.

Husein highlights an intriguing perspective: "What I have seen is the difference between perception and reality. The perception people have about minorities, people of different races, religions, or backgrounds often results in labels being placed on them. In reality, these preconceived notions persist. It's a product of cultural backgrounds and societal norms."

One area where these biases manifest is religion. Even in a country as diverse as the United States, mentioning religion, faith or God can sometimes be met with discomfort. It has, in some instances, become a conversational taboo. This reluctance stems from a fear of controversy and potential backlash.

The question that naturally arises is: How can organisations foster inclusivity, eliminate cultural differences among their employees and sensitise them to the importance of diversity?

“Initiatives driven by corporations play a crucial role in breaking down barriers. But these efforts require a cultural shift, and they are not always top-down. What I am doing here in India right now is supporting initiatives where corporations within the corporation can support and promote diversity,” adds Husein.

He recognises the deep cultural norms in India, which sometimes create barriers. For instance, India's traditional societal structure has often placed women in roles primarily centered around the home, raising children and tending to familial needs. This perception of women's roles is changing.

"In India, in positions of responsibility, I have no doubt that women can match up to the position of a man. Women, given opportunities in the right positions, will excel, and as the older generation's traditional notions pass, the younger generation, with the aid of technology, will have more open avenues,” shares Husein.

Despite challenges, a bright future for women is envisioned. The increasing number of women graduating in STEM fields is an optimistic sign. However, to accelerate this transformation, companies need to support the education of their workforce. By allowing employees to take courses in line with their career goals, organisations can actively contribute to eradicating biases and fostering inclusivity.

Overall, Husein highlights a changing landscape in the world of diversity, equity and inclusion. “The process is gradual, but with education, cultural shifts, and a focus on equal opportunities, we can look forward to a more inclusive future. In the global workforce, women are increasingly taking the lead in prominent positions. This progress demonstrates that the journey toward diversity and inclusion is indeed underway.”

India, with its rich culture and dynamic democracy, is poised for an era of change, and as barriers break down, women, in particular, will step into leadership roles and beyond. While challenges persist, the future holds promise, and the key to success is to foster inclusivity, transform the perception of diversity, and recognise talent regardless of gender or cultural background. As the corporate world continues to evolve, the vision of a diverse and equitable workplace is ever closer to becoming a reality.


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