Informed Organizational leaders View diversity as a business imperative. But, diversity in itself does not result in a competitive edge. Diversity is likely to breed tension, conflict, misunderstanding and frustration unless an organization develops a culture that supports, honors and Values differences.
By defining diversity broadly as being everything that makes us different from others-including race, gender, values, work styles, communication styles and characteristics employees can “buy in” to the value of building a culture that supports diversity.
Some of the advantages of addressing diversity include:
- Developing greater understanding of diverse customer needs to better serve diverse markets.
- Gaining advantage by being a leader among competitors who are not capitalizing on the benefits of diversity. Attracting and retaining the best talent in the labor pool.
- Effectively using the talent of diverse associates for increased innovation and productivity by enhancing teamwork and reducing interpersonal conflicts.
- Increasing employee satisfaction, morale and Commitment to organizational goals.
- Enhancing communication and coordination.
- Eliminating or reducing lawsuits and penalties related to discrimination.
Measuring Diversity Efforts
Once organizations realize the importance of addressing diversity, they begin to ask the following questions:
- How do we determine our Current status related to diversity?
- What action steps do We need to implement to begin improving the situation?
- How do we measure our progress?
While there are benefits to reviewing what other companies are doing related to diversity, every organization has its own unique culture. It is critical to establish an internal benchmark describing the Current environment. A cultural diversity assessment provides this original benchmark and becomes the vital tool to determine the organizations progress related to diversity.
Cultural Diversity Assessments
A cultural diversity assessment is a process that provides an analysis of an organizations culture. The assessment identifies the organization’s assumptions, norms, systems and practices to determine if they are supportive of the company’s vision for diversity. The main purpose of the assessment is to identify what needs to be changed to create an environment more likely to allow all employees to do their best work, be more productive and achieve their potential. In a supportive Work environment, differences become assets, opportunities for innovation and competitive advantage. For example, by Changing perspectives about employee development and Coaching, one Organization was able to better support its diversity climate.
By identifying the underlying assumptions Operating in the organization, it is possible to get at the causes in the problematic areas and begin to address them. The collected data are used to determine what needs to be done to implement positive change.
This measurement system is important in identifying issues that require attention as well as securing management and employee “buy in” for the overall corrective efforts needed and the respective resources required. Involving managers and employees in the assessment will increase their level of Commitment to working toward the diversity goals and vision.
If the assessment is bypassed, companies are likely to implement diversity initiatives that do not directly address the key issues or to implement programs that, in fact, Continue to reinforce the current culture.
Ongoing Measurement of Progress
A comprehensive assessment should be conducted at the beginning of a diversity effort and serve as the baseline for diversity initiatives. Thereafter, periodic updates of the assessment should be scheduled to assist the organization in tracking progress, identifying issues that require additional attention and determining emerging new issues.
For example, Occasional focus groups and brief surveys can be conducted. Scans Or shorter assessments can be conducted after the initial baseline audit to examine particular areas. Closely monitoring progress also helps to ensure that the practices being instituted are effective. The organization’s leaders may assume that they are meeting the required needs; the current data will keep them accurately apprised. It is also important to communicate progress, which is good for morale and will generate greater commitment for the long-term diversity effort.