Evolution in Organizational Diversity: How to manage it better!

Organizational Diversity has become the ‘Hot Button’ issue in every domain. So what do we actually mean by this very term? According to Harrison and Klein, 2007, diversity can be defined as the collective amount of differences among members within a social unit. However, according to Cox, 2001, diversity is reflective of the variation of social and cultural identities among people co-existing in an employment setting. Alternatively, diversity may be conceived of as the varied perspectives and approaches that members of different identity groups bring to the workplace. Prior to 1990, researchers believed that organizational diversity leads to detrimental effects on the performance factor leading to lower employee satisfaction and higher turnover. This, in turn, creates a sense of lower cohesiveness, higher organizational detachment and higher inter-group conflicts.
But if we analyse the current statistics (as per Corporate Executive Board Company), the scenario has changed. This can be substantiated by the positive results shown in the recent researches by Robinson and Dechant (1997), Carlozzi (1999), Griscombe and Mattis (2002), Harrison and Sin (2006) and many more. According to the survey results by CEB, it was shown that discretionary effort and intent to stay in the organization has increased by 12% and 19% respectively due to organizational diversity and inclusivity. In addition to that, team collaboration and commitment, has increased by 57% and 42% respectively.

According to a global survey done on 9300+ executives, across 10 different countries, Indian companies are most ineffective in building an effective and inclusive workforce, though most of the executives believed that their organization has policies and programs that promote diversity at workplace. Why is it so? According to the survey on 1400+ Indian executives, it was reported that female executives are ambitious and are confident of their own abilities; however, they are highly sceptical on the organization’s part. The gloomy statistics across the fortune 1000 companies also show that 49% of them have one or no women in their top management. 

The common approaches for improving diversity and inclusion are: – Mentoring, Diversity Mission Statement, Affinity Groups, Unconscious Bias training, Employee Resource groups, Diversity Council, Diversity Scorecard etc.  But are they enough? 

Most of the successful organizations focuses on four additional things apart from these processes:
Diversification in Personal Context: Everyone knows the power of stories. Each time a fact is presented by the top leaders, a story should be attached to it. This will create a huge impact on the employees, resulting in greater diversity and internal stakeholder commitments.
Core Culture and Values: Cultures and values provide the best results if it has a top-down approach. If diversity sets into the core culture and values followed by the top management, then only the people of the organization will bring more of their diversity to work.
Targeting Systematic improvement: Bringing change to the age old system is not possible if it is not systematic. Vision and Mission should be followed stringently by the top management. The process should be in three layers – Developing talent, Succession Planning and Measuring results to reinforce progress.
Board sparks movement: Diversity at the board level would be a real advantage towards the successful implementation of the processes. In due course of time, it may be necessary to take action to free up spots or expand the size of the board in order to promote the aforesaid objectives.
The three point plan to create competitive advantage through workforce diversity:
a) The organization should allow its business leaders to focus on relative diversity and inclusivity results, and not only on the final results. This approach will help the organization move progressively towards the end objective. There are two ways to do so:
-Develop ownership on a regional basis in order to implement the process successfully throughout the organisation.
-The management should assess the progress after each pre-decided time period.
b) Generally, all the organizations focus on diversity centric recruitment processes, but the success factor lies in triggering the career influencers of the diverse talent pool. Candidates showing inclusive behaviours should be hired.In order to expand the diverse pool of talent, the management should properly consider trusted resources.The management should also reinforce the inclusive behaviour in the candidates from time to time apart from only hiring the candidates showing inclusivity.
c) The employees will be more effective if they can objectively figure out what he or she needs to do to reach the leadership positions. The HR department should support the organization as well as its people in creating a process that can minimize biases in talent management decisions.The end variables for leadership positions should be carefully defined and value proposition should be done to encourage diverse talent pool for the organisation. In a highly competitive market, everyone looks for job satisfaction. This is achieved as a result of a highly diversified but inclusive work force. It is time that we should focus only on the ability of the individual, not on gender, race or ethnicity. So what are you focusing on?

About the Author:
Sourav Roy
He is presently pursuing his MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi.

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