Helping companies to leverage the power of diverse teams to improve the bottom line.
Culture Coach International
Helping Companies to Utilize Diversity as a Strategic Lever for Growth and Innovation
What trends do you see happening with diversity in companies today?
The field of diversity has changed greatly in the past couple of decades. Increasingly companies are moving away from the idea of diversity being just about race or gender and are using a much more inclusive definition of diversity that allows all employees to be part of the diversity conversation. The definition of diversity that we use with CCI is: All the ways that we are similar and different to one another.
What topic in diversity is generating the most buzz?
Right now, there is a great buzz around generational differences. For the first time we have four generations that are working side by side in the workplace. The generational differences can be stark and these differences are causing some consternation among workers who are struggling to work on multi-generational teams. While much of the frustration is targeted towards Gen Y employees (those 30 and younger), in reality, companies need to provide tools that enable employees to recognize the skill sets and cultural viewpoints that each generation brings to their work. Leveraging those differences is part of honoring diversity and creating an inclusive workplace.
What is the biggest misunderstanding that companies have about diversity initiatives?
I think the largest mistake companies make about diversity is thinking that there is a "one size fits all" solution. Any part of a diversity program, be it diversity training, recruitment, or employee engagement groups-needs to be undertaken within a larger strategic plan. The diversity strategic plan needs to take into account a company's overall goals, their corporate culture and current and future business needs. A comprehensive plan takes into account the idea that building a diverse organization will take a multi-pronged approach and also will take time.
What are the biggest mistakes that companies make?
Thinking that by hiring diverse talent that this will create a diverse organization. If the corporate culture is not prepared to honor different points of views and perspectives, the talent that a company has spent precious resources to attract often walks back out the door. Recruiting diverse talent is just one aspect of creating a corporate culture that values diversity. Internal efforts to promote understanding of and a respect for differences are equally as important.
How can you tell if a company is doing a good job with diversity?
When a company is really "walking the talk" when it comes to diversity, it becomes part of the organizational culture. It is not a topic that is discussed when someone from HR brings it up. Instead, employees will ask "what is your point of view?" in a meeting when they want a different perspective or you will see a willingness to learn from other people.
What is the difference between diversity and cultural competency?
If diversity is about all that ways we are similar and different to one another, cultural competency is about understanding cultural differences specifically. These cultural differences are typically seen through national cultural norms such as the differences between someone who is American, Chinese or Brazilian. Understanding cultural differences and navigating them well is now a critical skill in today's global marketplace.
How are multinational companies handling diversity globally?
As multinational companies have become global brands they have come to realize that they need to understand the local culture and not simply impose their point of view on the local office. This is true with work styles and the way work is done in that culture - being sensitive to local cultures when it comes to diversity is no different. While it is important to maintain some corporate continuity around diversity, it is also important to work with local partners to find the best way to implement the overarching corporate goals within the local culture and norms.
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