How to manage diversity effectively
Various barriers arise in managing diversity effectively in organisations and some barriers derive in the person doing the perceiving, others are based on the information and schemes that have built up over time concerning the person being perceived. To overcome these barriers effectively manage diversity, managers must possess or develop certain attitudes and values and the skills needed to change other people’s attitude and values.
Steps in managing diversity effectively
Secure top management commitment:
• Top management’s commitment to diversity is crucial for the success of any diversity related initiatives.
• Top manages need to develop the correct ethical values and performance or business-orientated attitudes that allow them to make appropriate use of their human resources
Strive to increase the accuracy of perceptions
• Developing the appropriate values and attitudes is to take steps to increase the accuracy of perceptions.
• Managers should consciously attempt to be open to other points of view and perspectives, seek them out and encourage their subordinates to do the same.
• Organisational members who are open to other perspectives put their own beliefs and knowledge to an important reality test and will be more inclined to modify or change them when necessary.
• Managers should not be afraid to change their views about a person, issue or event; moreover they should encourage their subordinates to be open to changing their views in the light of discomforting evidence.
• Managers and all members of an organisation should strive to avoid making snap judgements about people; rather, judgement should be made only when sufficient and relevant information has been gathered.
Increase diversity awareness
• Its natural for managers and other members of an organisation view other people from their own perspective because their own feelings, thoughts, attitudes and experience guide their perceptions and interactions.
• The ability to appreciate diversity requires that people become aware of other perspectives and the various attitudes and experiences of others.
• Many diversity awareness programmes in the organisation strive to increase managers and employees awareness of their own attitudes, biases and stereotypes a well as the different perspectives of diverse mangers, subordinates and customers.
Diversity awareness programs often have these goals:
• Providing organisational members with accurate information about diversity
• Uncovering personal biases and stereotypes
• Assessing personal beliefs, attitudes and values and leaning about other points of points of view
• Overturning inaccurate stereotypes and beliefs about different groups
• Developing and atmosphere in which people free to share their differing perspectives and point of view
• Improving understanding of others who are different form oneself
Sometimes taking time to interact with someone who is different in some way can increase awareness. Employees and managers at social functions or just having lunch with a co-worker, often the people they interact with are those they feel most comfortable with. Top managers are often far removed from entry level employees and may lack real understanding and appreciation for what these employees do day and day out, the challenges and obstacles they face and the steps that can be taken to improve effectiveness. Some managers have taken step to improve their understanding of the experiences, attitudes and perspectives of frontline employees.
Embracing the similarities in the diverse workforce HR professionals manage today to creates opportunities for diversity to become one of the most exciting pillars of the EVP. The role of HR is to understand and demystify the complexities of diversity and to remove obstacles, thereby ensuring the full participation and contribution of all employees. Diversity has become an imperative for business sustainability and success.
Companies that recruit employees from the widest possible pool of talent enjoy and advantage in an increasingly competitive global economy. It is not just a diverse workforce that spear head companies. Top leadership teams drawn from across nationalities, genders and professional backgrounds also contribute significantly to the organisations performance. There is certainly a direct link between diversity and company performance, the more diverse a company is in terms of gender/race/nationality/age and educational background the more successful a company is. In addition to this, companies with more women among top management not only provide better returns for stakeholders but were more profitable.
The diversity strategy needs to address the following:
• Indicators on how the strategy will drive business sustainability
• Relevance for the present market
• Inclusion of all aspects of diversity: gender, race, parentage, educational backgrounds national and international resources generational gaps, sexuality, disability, etcetera
• Interventions to attract, grow and retain diverse talent at the required pace
• Creation of a culture and environment to foster success of the diverse workforce
• Leadership ownership and accountability