What is diversity management?
Diversity management is the action taken by an organization to ensure the inclusion of employees from a range of backgrounds. It is there to create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive.
By not only hiring employees from a variety of backgrounds (diversity) but also making them feel welcome (inclusion), an organization can expect to see a stronger culture and improved business results.
What are the benefits of diversity management in the workplace?
Numerous studies have proven many benefits of diversity management in the workplace. One of the most widely recognized studies on the benefits of a structured approach to workforce diversity management is by McKinsey. They found that:
- Companies with more diverse workplaces perform better than their less diverse competitors
- Strong inclusion practices can give organizations a competitive edge
- Diversity and inclusion are essential for business recovery and resilience in times of crisis.
There are many reasons for this. Foremost, organizations that successfully implement diversity management in their workplaces have access to a wider talent pool. This means access to more skilled and innovative workers who have the ability to help an organization grow by :
- Improving organizational performance
- Encouraging innovation
- Enhancing customer service
- Being a source of competitive advantage
- Expanding the talent pool
- Helping to build a better reputation
What is more, diverse organizations are less likely to resort to established ways of thinking because of the many different perspectives involved. Although this can feel challenging and sometimes causes conflict, it often results in more innovative results and improved decision-making.
Organizations with successful diversity management strategies are also shown to be better at anticipating current and changing customer demands. This provides a tangible competitive edge compared to organizations with a more homogenous workforce.
In order to reap the benefits of managing workplace diversity in your company, it is essential to have an inclusion strategy in place. This should be a strategic plan that sets out how the organization will become more inclusive. It should also identify what specific actions need to be taken in order to achieve this.
An inclusion strategy cannot simply be a token gesture or a quick fix; it needs to be an integral part of the company's culture. Only then can the true benefits of diverse backgrounds management in the workplace be realized.
What are the types of diversity management?
There are three types of diversity management:
Structural Diversity Management :
It is when an organization changes its structure to be more inclusive. This could involve changing the way job descriptions are written so that they do not exclude certain groups of people or setting up employee resource networks for underrepresented groups.
Process Diversity Management :
It is when an organization changes its processes to be more inclusive. This might involve changing the way performance reviews are carried out or redesigning recruitment and selection processes to remove unconscious bias.
Behavioural Diversity Management :
It is when an organization changes its culture to be more inclusive. This might involve changing the way leaders communicate with employees or introducing policies and initiatives to support a more diverse workforce.
As an HR manager, you should choose the type that is right for your organization depending on many factors, including the organization's size, the sector it operates in, and the current level of diversity within the workforce.
How to structure your diversity management?
There are six key steps to take when structuring your diversity management:
1. Define what inclusion means for your organization :
This will involve understanding what your organization's values are and how they relate to inclusion. It is also important to consult with employees from different backgrounds to get their perspectives on what inclusion means to them.
2. Assess where your organization is currently at :
This will help you to identify any areas where your organization is falling short when it comes to inclusion. It is important, to be honest about the areas that need improvement and to consult with employees from different backgrounds to get their perspectives on the current situation.
3. Set targets and objectives :
This will involve setting realistic and achievable goals for your organization in terms of inclusion. These should be aligned with your organization's values and strategic priorities.
4. Implement an inclusion strategy :
This will involve putting in place the actions and processes that are needed to achieve your targets and objectives. It is important to consult with employees from different backgrounds when designing your inclusion strategy so that it meets their needs.
5. Create an action plan to get there :
This will involve setting out the specific actions that need to be taken in order to achieve your inclusion targets and objectives. It is important to consult with employees from different backgrounds when designing your action plan so that it meets their needs.
6. Monitor and review progress :
This will involve regular monitoring and reviewing your organization's progress towards its inclusion targets and objectives. It is important to consult with employees from different backgrounds when designing your monitoring and review process so that it meets their needs.
These six steps will ensure that your diversity management is strategic and will help you to achieve your desired outcomes. Diversity management is essential for business recovery and resilience in times of crisis.
What are the challenges of diversity management?
There are many challenges in managing diversity in the workplace. One of the most significant challenges is unconscious bias when people judge others based on their personal beliefs and prejudices. This can lead to people feeling excluded or marginalized at work.
Another challenge is that diversity programs can be time-consuming and costly. It can be difficult to change long-standing processes and structures, which can take time and money.
Managing diversity can also be challenging because it requires people to change how they think and behave. This can be a difficult process for many people, and it can take time for them to adjust to the new way of working.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges to managing diversity is that it can often be met with employee resistance. This is because people can be reluctant to change the way they work or because they may not understand the benefits of implementing diversity management.
How can you improve your diversity management ?
Improving an organization’s diversity and inclusivity can be a slow task. Five ways to manage diversity well include:
1. Setting goals for diversity management and examining progress
Without clear diversity goals, it is difficult to understand whether or not your organization is truly making progress. Including diverse talent management goals in the broader organizational strategy will make it clear that diversity strategy is important.
Diversity goals can be set for several areas, such as recruitment, retention, or promotions. It will also highlight progress against the plans, highlighting the need to make changes if needed.
2. Encouraging open communication
Open communication is key to ensuring that everyone in the organization feels included. Diversity should be seen as an opportunity to learn from others rather than a threat.
Encourage employees to share their experiences and perspectives in a safe and welcoming environment.
3. Providing training on unconscious bias
Unconscious bias is a type of prejudice that happens outside of our conscious awareness. It can result in people making decisions that are not in line with the organization’s diversity goals.
Diversity training can help employees to identify their own biases and learn how to avoid letting them influence their decision-making.
4. Getting managers involved in diversity management
Instead of managing diversity efforts and then rolling them out to managers, it can be more productive to have managers involved from the start. They have ‘real-life’ knowledge to help implement the plans and may have ideas that could otherwise have been forgotten.
What is more, by involving managers from the beginning, they are more likely to buy into diverse and inclusive workplace management and support it internally.
5. Ensuring zero-tolerance toward discrimination
In the world of diversity management, it can be easy to ensure diversity through hiring practices. However, inclusivity is more challenging, Implementing a zero-tolerance approach toward discrimination is an important signal toward supporting it.
This approach clearly indicates that microaggressions and ‘banter’ are as unacceptable as more open forms of discrimination. Providing clear and accessible support for all employees to report perceived discrimination is an important element of this.
To sum up
Diversity management can help organizations to improve their performance in several ways. First, it can encourage employees to think outside the box and come up with new and innovative ideas. This is because people from different backgrounds will have different perspectives on problems and challenges. It can also enhance customer service. This is because a more diverse workforce will be able to relate to and understand the needs of a wider range of customers.
In addition, diverse workforce management can be a source of competitive advantage. This is because it allows organizations to tap into new markets and understand the needs of different customer groups.
Finally, it can help to build a better reputation. This is because an organization that is seen to be supportive of diversity is likely to be more attractive to potential employees and customers.
When done correctly, diversity management can have a significant and positive impact on an organization. Organizations that have successfully implemented diversity management programs have seen improvements in many areas, including:
- Employee recruitment and retention
- Organizational culture
- Communication and teamwork
- Conflict resolution
If your organization is looking to improve performance, encourage innovation, or enhance customer service, diversity management may be the answer.