When employed in the corporate world I recall vividly going through some of the first diversity training workshops put on by the company. These were all focused around the women versus men working together topic and the relevant issues which arose from that.

As things progressed the voices of individuals from the other many dimensions of diversity started to be heard and; now it is clearly acknowledged that we need to pay attention to employees from all of the dimensions Of diversity in order to craft out effective diversity strategies which lead organizations developing and maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Workplace Diversity Classifications

So what are these dimensions Of Diversity of which we speak? Well, there are many and here are some to consider …

  • Thinking styles
  • Language
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Political perspectives
  • Experiences growing up location wise
  • Nationality
  • Job level
  • Race
  • Culture
  • Skills
  • Gender
  • Physical abilities
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Sex

These dimensions Of diversity lead to us acting in a particular fashion and carrying out our day to day work activities in our own particular style.

Each individual whilst acting within their particular style according to their view of the world have the basic needs of being appreciated and acknowledged. Their ideas of how a company should design and develop and product or service and; sell that product or service into the marketplace need to be incorporated into the decision making process. This is especially important when we bear in mind that the organization’s products and services are being sold into an ever increasing diverse marketplace.

Diversity Management Leadership

With the makeup of the typical management structures of today’s companies it is critical to have the structure and processes in place which ensure that effective career progression, recognition, acknowledgment and reward for all employees. The higher level management will need to go through relevant training and to fully embrace diversity with the lead of the human resources department.

The way this is implemented will of course differ from organization to organization but we may well see management spending time with individuals in order to understand the world from their point of view. This could take the form of one of meetings and/or social events. However I would advise a mentoring / mentee relationship which gives both parties a view into each others world.

It may be the case that a high level corporate manager comes from a middle class background, attended private schools and went straight through to a prestigious university and from there through various programs is managing as expected. And it must be said, is well equipped to do so. However, this individual may well have no real life experience of dealing with members of the community that are not like themselves so, when they are faced with dealing with individuals like this within the workplace they are left outside of their comfort zones.

In the same organization you may have some other well educated individuals from say the black and ethnic minority communities who is very talented however, the manager may not have life experience of dealing with this type of individual.

(The above is for illustration purposes only, we could use an example where the managers are strictly religious and have to deal with employees who are well capable and may be in a gay relationship this could cause the manager not to value that individual and in turn that individual’s career may not be progressed as it otherwise would have and the company ends up not running in the most efficient way)

The way this individual’s ideas, suggestions and opinions are processed due to the manager’s bias may lead to inefficient development and marketing strategies. These will all in turn lead onto the company not operating in an as efficient a manner as it otherwise would be if all of the quality ideas and suggestions were taken on board.

This illustrated some of my thought processes behind devising an effective diversity strategy in bringing together the management team, human resources and individuals from the differing dimensions of diversity in order to improve company efficiency and overall employee satisfaction as well as enhancing the company’s competitive advantage.

Often within organizations the question is asked (by varying sections of the workforce) “why are we bothering with Diversity”? The point being, “things have not been so bad up until this point so why divert time, energy and money into this thing called Diversity which only seems to be in existence to help certain sections of the workforce” and often can be interpreted as acting as a career progression disadvantage to the employees who come from the dominant sections of the workforce.

Today more that ever there is a need to establish the business case for Diversity and to ensure that the message is passed down throughout al levels of the organization.

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Above is a snippet of an interview between myself and Nadia Saba

Head Of Diversity for Avon & Somerset Police

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It is fair to say that Diversity is often greeted with a certain amount of skepticism and doubt, is normally ‘owned’ by the Human Resources department whose task it is to ensure that Diversity is implemented throughout the organization.

In some cases the individuals with the Human Resources who are tasked with rolling out the program may not be fully up to speed with Diversity themselves and with the root cause as to why it is essential in today business landscape to have a coherent Diversity program which is understood by all within the organization.

This is where establishing the business case for Diversity comes into play, it moves the emotional aspect out of focus and gives employees the ‘real reason why it is so important for their organization to have a coherent Diversity strategy in place i.e. it is down to the effect on the bottom line business results as the company continually strives to establish its competitive advantage over and against the other companies operating in the same market space.

More on this in an upcoming post.

Stephen C Campbell