Okay, so here’s another googly: the CEO is also the Chief Diversity Officer – the CDO. Now most CEOs would groan at this additional moniker. Because CEOs are already saddled with diversity – it’s in the very nature of their job. Just look at the C-Suite: There’s a finance wizard, a marketing guru, an operations expert, a variety of other champions, and the quintessential Human Resources (HR) person. Diversity is already our middle name!
The fact is that Diversity has many names. Not just the middle one. And it is an opportunity! Whether it is gender, or nationality, the wider the variety of people in an organization, the better a place to work it is.
Yet, people fall into the homogeneity trap. Visit the lunch-room sometime. It would not be surprising to see people from the same ethnic background sitting together sharing their language with their food. Or people from the same work-group sitting together, adding personal camaraderie to their officially determined one.
Birds of a feather – there’s no doubt about it – will flock together. It is a kind of comfort and trust, a feeling of home, that comes into play when some common thread binds a group of people. Therefore, it is no surprise that diversity is often considered a challenge.
What? Now we will all have to speak in English – just because those guys cannot understand our language? Why do I have to report to a ‘foreigner’ – can’t we find someone locally? But…we’ve always done it this way! Why change?
Even though they are happy to state that the only constant is change, people actually hate to change! And diversity, by its very nature, is a change-catalyst – a good reason to embrace it!
As globalness increases its footprint in the workplace, it brings with it a wide range of cultures, languages and accents, ethnic groups and more. To truly succeed, organizations must open their arms, doors and minds to this.
So what exactly are we taking about:
A characteristic, not just a statistic: A varied workplace allows for a wide range of perspectives, fresh views and the ability to handle a broader range of problems. Restricting diversity to a number on a dashboard is not enough. It has to become a part of the organization’s DNA.
Fairness and equality are two different things: Treating everyone the same way is no indicator of justice and fair play in the workplace. Everyone is often painted with the same brush…
Respect: People learn to respect others with different abilities, belief-systems, skills and backgrounds, which may vary wildly from their own.
Equal opportunity: Employer branding is significantly influenced by the element of equal opportunity. That people have to be within a certain stereotype to grow in the organization, denigrates the brand big time!
The power of collaboration: The true meaning of ‘unity in diversity’. When a heady mix of ideas, capabilities and experiences comes together to work for a common goal, success is a given!
But diversity does not happen automatically. It has to be consciously driven. Here are five diversity must-do’s:
The Leadership commitment: The CEO and her leadership team must be committed to bringing diversity into the organization. Without it, the organization will continue to wallow in its existing place. HR cannot do it alone!
A diversity policy: Yes, it has to be stated up front – clearly. What is the definition of diversity – what does it comprise of? Why is it important – to the organization, to the Customer, to the employee? How should people deal with diversity? And, not to forget, what happens to detractors…?
Monitor the statistics: Constantly assessing the workforce does throw up startling numbers. Gaps suddenly emerge, as do the imbalances. With data at hand, timely and appropriate action plans should be put into place. While numbers alone should not drive the policy, its efficacy should be numerically evaluated.
Build it into the goals: All people leaders must have a diversity goal. Since diversity is known to enhance productivity, it has to be included in the performance management process. Targets need to be set and leaders assessed accordingly.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!: No explanation required…!
One doesn’t have to be a clairvoyant to see that diversity will be fundamental to tomorrow’s success. The earth is getting flatter and people are getting even closer, necessitating greater collaboration of thought, word and deed. Organizations – Indian, Multi-national or family owned – and even Governments, and their political agendas, must exude inclusiveness.
For business gurus who are looking for the next big disruptor, it just has to be diversity! Remember, you first read it here!