Making diversity policy and training effective

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2009 at 5:47 pm

 The following was mentioned in a really interesting comment discussion I was having  the other day after the recent post on diversity.

 “despite hearing this word everday and being part of a "minority" group …, it was quite challenging to simplify what it means to me as an individual….. In a workplace, could an organisation truly embrace the meaning of the word? Is it enough to put up inclusive posters, hire "representatives" of cultures? Is one enough to represent a culture? Does it make the organization practice diversity? One keeps wondering…”

In a word YES. It is definitely possible for an organisation to embrace the meaning of the word and it can be a real comparative advantage if they do.

Sadly a lot of organisations struggle to understand what embracing diversity is really all about.

Dennis T. Jaffe and Cynthia D. Scott, Normal Transition Curve:Managing organisational change, Los Altos, Ca Crisp Publications, 1989 Combined with Conceptual Model of Diversity(La Fasto 1992), Baxter Healthcare Corporation in Jackson, B.W, Lafasto, Fschultz, H.G. and Kelly D. ‘Diversity’ in Human Resource Management, 31 (1 and 2) p.28 John Wiley and Sons Inc 1992

The diagram above shows a typical response to change; from shock and denial in the beginning through to commitment and resolution when the need to change has become accepted.  This has been partnered with another graph showing the typical response to diversity over time.

The type of behaviour described in the post, putting up posters and hiring token individuals is typical of those organisations that haven't really come to terms with what embracing diversity has to offer.  

Everyone is different so having a single individual who is representative of a group demographically will make an organisation more diverse (which is good) but it doesn't mean that the organisation is embracing diversity. Putting up posters is nice but is really only good if the organisations culture is to read and act on what the posters say, which in my experience is rare.

An organisation that really embraces diversity understands what diversity has to offer as well as what it costs in terms of compliance. 
Many organisations seemingly support and embrace diversity publicly and many more are compliant with diversity legislation but very few of these actually value diversity when it comes down to improving their effectiveness.

Embracing Diversity the Short version

It needs more than cosmetic changes.

Managing Diversity isn’t just about Equal opportunities and discrimination. 

It’s not just about getting a new training regime in place and it isn’t just a Training or HR concern it’s important to everyone everywhere in the organisation. 
An organisation that embraces diversity  has embedded good practice in their values and actions (it becomes part of the culture). 
It's not rocket science its about having a commitment to helping  people understand people. 

Inclusion isn’t’ enough!

An important part of managing diversity is giving diverse people access to the workplace. 

It’s not just about that though, it is also about keeping them and getting the most out of them once they are there. 
Having people from a minority group or even having them in charge isn’t enough. 
Managing diversity means learning to work with difference of all types. 
Just because people belong to a group doesn’t make them the same. 
Diversity is just as relevant to two white middle class men whose conflicting styles of thinking and operating lead to difficulties as it is to people from so called minority groups.

Putting the Ideals into practice

  • Self Awareness –understand yourself so you are aware of what you bring to the workplace
  • Respect – have respect for difference, this means respecting others and yourself
  • Constructive Activity – be proactive about making diversity work for you and your organisation
  • Flexibility – be prepared for change, respond positively to situations that are difficult, challenging or new

 I will post more on this including additional practical principles of diversity in action in future posts.

Posted via email from Urban Ascetic


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