Similar to beauty, diversity is in the eye of the beholder. It is a concept and a practice that has been defined and viewed differently depending on the environment in which it is promoted.
With Obama’s recent re-election and our constantly changing, multicultural demographic landscape, corporations have been forced to stop and take notice to Diversity management and its influence on new markets, revenue streams, community outreach and employee recruitment and retention. While the corporations that employ us are slowly warming up to the importance of diversity as a business imperative, a lot of work still needs to be done.
According to a recent Forbes article written by Glenn Llops, Llops states that Diversity management must be a profit center that is measureable and directly connected to revenue generation, research & development activities and new ventures. Diversity can no longer be a cost center valued only as a line item to be cut from the budget when revenue projections are not met. Subsequently, Diversity management must be continuous.
Many HR professionals subscribe to the philosophy that Diversity management is a responsibility that every corporate C-level executive and department head must embrace as part of their job description, and make part of their business plan and budget. It must be ingrained in how they think, act and create. For example, Pricewaterhouse Coopers has made number one on the list for Diversityinc.com’s Top Company for Diversity for 2012 especially because of their CEO’s commitment for generating accountability and visibility for diversity management, corporate and organizational communications, and their strong human-capital results.
Favoring different groups at different times as opposed to embracing all groups at all times has been a common and consistent pitfall of Diversity programs. Instead, in order for Diversity management to be successful it must become an everyday responsibility inherent within the organizations culture that everyone embraces. As we implement and support Diversity programs within our organization, we must be dedicated to keeping these programs continuous and deliberate.
As HR practitioners, some may agree that at times the word “diversity” itself can carry with it a negative connotation that makes some feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that has become a hindrance at times rather than an incentive for key influencers whose attention is focused on business specific, bottom-line results. In fact, many executives believe that diversity creates bottle necks when attempting to accomplish key initiatives.
Diversity management must shift its efforts on converting initiatives into best practices that become an embedded part of the company’s central culture. Diversity management is about being culturally intelligent about yourself and others in order to enable higher levels of workplace performance, market and sell in more authentic ways, and enjoy sustainable growth and profitability in the new markets that serve our country’s changing demographics. Diversity management is about acquiring global market perspective to forge meaningful strategic business alliances that strengthen the supply chain. Sodexo’s placement on Diversityinc.com’s list in the top two three years in a row is an indication of how seriously this company takes the link between diversity management and its business goals. Sodexo has been deemed best at measuring what is effective and using the data analysis to drive improvement. The company consistently uses its diversity efforts as the competitive differentiator in its business growth.
In closing, as we continue to explore how to implement Diversity management into our organizations, we must continue to share information to determine best practices that will allow us to explore and evolve as we continue to define diversity in our ever-changing world.