Proven Methods in Diversity Management
In business, diversity management is finding the best practice to create and maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace that, in turn, can benefit from a wide range of experiences and talents. Benefitting from diversity is especially important for corporations that wish to succeed in a global market. As Malcolm Forbes said: “diversity is the art of thinking independently together.”
Diversity is not merely about being inclusive of different races and genders within a business, but about making the most of a team with different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, experiences and business methods. Successful diversity management should embrace the individuality of a business team, rather than merely tolerate it. One trap that some businesses tend to fall into is to focus too much on the HR initiative of diversity, instead of making a genuine effort to embrace diversity within a company’s working culture. Rohini Anand, chief diversity officer of Sodexo, a French food and facilities management company, claims that diversity is all about talent and responding to customer needs in a more holistic way.
Creating an environment that makes way for unique ideas also paves the way for better innovation. This is something that many technology companies have learned over the years, including multinational tech giant IBM. IBM chief diversity officer, Ron Glover, said: “Innovation is about looking at complex problems and bringing new views to the table.” This kind of innovation has also pushed IBM to open facilities worldwide, taking advantage of global talent and driving innovation forwards in the last 100 years, employing over 380,000 people in 117 countries. Louis Gerstner, CEO of IBM said: “We made diversity a market-based issue… It’s about understanding our markets, which are diverse and multicultural.” In other words, managing a diverse team is more about reflecting the diverse needs of customers and taking on board a range of talents and views to accommodate those needs.
In most cases, many companies have set a goal to be more inclusive and to hire more minorities within a time span to meet their diversity quota. However, creating a strategy for retention is far more important to ensure that a company maintains a culture and environment that accommodates a diverse workforce, and ensures that their different views and methods are properly taken on board. Intel, for example, managed to increase its hiring of minority groups to 14.2%, but previously found that the exit rate for minority groups was still higher than other majority groups within the company. To rectify this, Intel introduced a service to guide those who wanted to leave the company and also put out a survey asking how to better accommodate minorities in their work environment. IBM also took on a similar strategy, where the CEO requested that employees provide suggestions on how to make IBM a more inclusive environment. They made efforts to organise team groups that allowed different groups to share their concerns in such a diverse environment; for example, IBM’s group of women were relieved to share the difficulties of balancing family and work.
Essentially, when it comes to diversity, any strategy to actively engage with a diverse workforce and allow them to voice their opinions should help benefit a company. Being inclusive is also an adaptive strategy to keep up with an increasingly global market, and to take on board ideas from different team members of different generations and cultural backgrounds, which may have unique ideas that appeal to new groups of consumers. In other words, it is about expanding a workforce and taking advantage of their unique talents and opinions to better reach out to consumers and boost competitiveness.
Written by Edward Mah for Together Abroad