What is the meaning of diversity management for the modern workforce? In the current global business environment, it’s not enough for organizations to just “check a few boxes” when it comes to their diversity and inclusion practices; more and more companies realize that effective diversity management strategies are not only their social responsibility—but they’re great for the bottom line, too.
So, why should modern organizations prioritize inclusion in the workplace, and how can they successfully manage their diversity efforts? In this Diversity Management: Prioritize Inclusion and Manage Diversity in the Workplace guide, organizations will learn:
- What is Organization Diversity?
- The Definition of Diversity Management
- Why Diversity Management Matters
- Managing Diversity in the Workplace: What to Know
- Diversity Management Strategies: How to Implement Diversity and Inclusion
- Implementing Diversity Management: The Challenges
- How to Start Building an Inclusive Organizational Culture
…and much more.
What Is Organizational Diversity?
The first thing we need to do is to provide an organizational diversity definition. Put simply, the definition of organizational diversity is a company that both currently employs and continually seeks out individuals with a wide range of different traits and backgrounds to make up their workforce.
Those traits and backgrounds span a massive spectrum, covering everything from gender, age, and race to sexual orientation, class, political affiliation, military service, and much more. Take a look at our Types of Diversity in the Workplace page to explore more about this topic.
The goal of organizational diversity? To maximize innovation, growth, and success by leveraging the talents and voices of as many groups of society as possible.
Representation is a key component of organizational diversity; that is ensuring modern organizations hire, retain, and advance talents who reflect communities in which they operate, and markets to whom they serve.
How do modern organizations achieve diversity goals, such as representation? It takes a combination of strategic planning, culture change, intention and accountability. Let’s examine how the best organizations out there go about managing workforce diversity for success.
What Is the Diversity Management Definition?
How can you define diversity management? What is managing diversity? A simple managing diversity definition can go something like this: the coordinated, determined effort of leadership and management throughout an organization to bring in employees from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds into various roles.
Diversity management encapsulates diversity and inclusion in a company—from establishing hiring practices and outreach efforts to the development of corporate standards and diversity metrics to the communication and coordination of continuing diversity education and training for the entire organization.
It’s a lot of work—but, as you’ll see in the upcoming section, it makes a huge difference.
Why Does Diversity Management Matter?
Here’s the big question: why does diversity management matter in the workplace? For those managers and leaders struggling to sell the idea of a diversity and inclusion program to higher-ups, there’s a case to be made beyond just the idea that improving diversity is a social responsibility.
An effective program for diversity in management and elsewhere benefits the bottom line, too. Here are five big, bottom-line elements that show why diversity management matters.
Diverse Organizations Unlock Growth Opportunities Faster
If your organization is interested in growing even bigger (and what ambitious company isn’t?), diversity could be the key to unlocking that needed growth. According to a landmark Harvard Business Review study, diverse leadership in an organization makes a company around 70% likelier to capture critical new markets.
In fact, those growth opportunities unlocked by a diversity program help unlock profits, too. A McKinsey report showed that companies with ethnic and cultural diversity are around 33% more likely to be profitable.
The bottom line? Diversity fuels the growth that modern companies need to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
Inclusive Organizations Are Better at Recruiting and Retaining Talent
Looking to keep the talent you have in your organization—and better recruit the next generation of difference-makers? If so, then an inclusive workplace is the key to recruiting and retaining your top talent.
According to an Organization Studies report and breakdown from Catalyst, “companies with higher levels of gender diversity and with HR policies and practices that focus on gender diversity are linked to lower levels of employee turnover.”
Another Catalyst paper also stated that “Thirty-five percent of an employee’s emotional investment to their work and 20% of their desire to stay at their organization is linked to feelings of inclusion.”
Corporate Leadership Council study also concluded that people from diverse and inclusive organizations are 19% likelier to stay with their jobs.
The bottom line? If you want to keep your best employees—and attract top, new talent—you need an effective inclusion strategy.
Inclusive Management Yields Higher Employee Engagement
If you’re running into the problems of disengaged employees—and projects that seem to get stuck at every turn—a lack of diversity and inclusion could be at the heart of the matter.
According to a Diversity Management study from PageGroup, almost 60% of companies with a diversity management program show improved teamwork. Additionally, an article in the New York Times stated that diverse groups create answers that are up to 58% more accurate—and a piece from the Journal of Business Engagement summarized by Catalyst details how employees feel more trusted and engaged when working for an employer that actively supports diversity.
The bottom line? To keep your employees engaged and your projects moving smoothly, work to create a diverse work environment where they can thrive.
Inclusive Management Maximizes Talent and Productivity
To get the most out of your teams, give them a workplace that is diverse and inclusive. Inclusive leadership, according to a Deloitte article, improves overall team performance by 17%; a Changeboard study shows that diverse teams also collaborate more effectively—by up to 57%—than non-diverse teams and that an environment with diverse leaders spurs team members to work up to 12% harder.
The bottom line: To maximize your employees’ talent and achieve optimum productivity, work on constructing a diverse and inclusive organization.
Diverse Teams Are Critical for Innovation
Innovation drives profitability—and diverse teams provide that creative fire organizations need.
An International Labour Organization study entitled “Women in Business and Management: The business case for change” found that inclusive business cultures report an almost 60% increase in “creativity, innovation, and openness” and approximately 38% “better assessment of consumer interest and demand.” For overall innovation? According to a Harvard Business Review study, high-diversity organizations deliver around 19% higher innovation revenues.
The bottom line? To get the innovation you need to keep growing and remaining productive, a diverse organization is a must.
Managing Diversity in the Workplace
How can you get to the diversity goals you set in your workplace? In some ways, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is an ever-evolving, always-changing mission that will keep going as long as your organization does; diversity movements are not going away any time soon, and they should keep being top-of-mind for executives for many, many, years to come.
Interested leaders and managers should start by getting total leadership buy-in, bolstered by facts and figures like the ones we cited above. Try bringing in outside consultants or using your own survey software or methods to get a handle on your company’s current status for diversity and inclusion—some of the results might surprise critical stakeholders. Additionally, coordinating with your corporate legal or compliance team to get their opinion on diversity and inclusion efforts may also benefit the push for managing diversity in the workplace.
Once the decision gets made to start a push for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, where should leaders begin? Let’s tackle that question in the next section.
Diversity Management Strategies: How To Implement Diversity and Inclusion
So, how can your organization start an effective inclusion and diversity management in the workplace program? Here are the seven fundamental movements that make up a powerful, game-changing inclusion and diversity management system for the modern workplace.
Identify Resources for Diversity and Inclusion Programs
First, start thinking about what type of resources your diversity and inclusion programs need.
Do you need a dedicated D&I employee in the organization (as so many organizations have these days), or will it be part of your human resources efforts? What kind of budget do you need to set aside to enable managing for diversity efforts? Do you need to invest in building out employee resource groups or a supportive intranet or website page? How about a Diversity and Inclusion-focused online resource—like Aperian® or the Inclusive Behaviors InventorySM?
Could a consultant help? Sit down with key stakeholders throughout the organization and plot out how best to develop the tools you need to enable your diversity management programs.
Be Intentional: Set Diversity Goals and Accountability for Change
The second part of the “how to manage diversity” question? Be intentional with your efforts. Set concrete diversity goals throughout the organization based upon optimistic (but still realistic) benchmarks, and hold your organization accountable to them.
Additionally, don’t make these goals hidden in obscure corporate memorandums. Share them with the company as a whole, so your employees know exactly what you’re doing—and how you’re holding your organization accountable for diversity and inclusion efforts.
Seek Out Different Mindsets – Recruit Diverse Talent
One of the best places to start with diversity management strategies is right at the start of the employee journey—the recruiting and hiring process. Set clear goals, expectations, and outlines for your recruiters and human resource professionals to bring in the diverse talent that makes a difference in the workplace.
Note that this should not only be for entry-level positions, either; make sure your diversity and inclusion efforts go all the way up through mid-level employees to upper management (and the board of directors, if there is one).
Set up Inclusion and Diversity Training
Diversity management training is a critical element of overall diversity management. Achieving authentic diversity in the workplace is a journey, not just a quick check of a box. Establish continuing education and diversity programs for all of your employees, and make sure these programs get tied into their annual goals
Build a Diverse Leadership Team
A diverse management team provides the forward-thinking leadership that your modern organization demands. Diversity and inclusion should start at the very top of the organization; if your leadership team, board members, and upper management don’t possess the degree of management diversity that the world around them offers, how can they accurately reach a global customer base? Make it a priority, when looking at diversity in business management, to start with the very top of your organization.
One huge part of how to manage diversity in the workplace is determining the initiatives that your organization will undertake. Again, this process will involve stakeholders throughout the organization—from the top on down. Meet with leadership and employees to determine what is working, what isn’t, and what initiatives you should start on for an authentic management effort.
Every company will be different; there is no “one size fits all” solution for your diversity management efforts (especially for global organizations). It will take careful planning, thought, and execution—but it will be worth it.
Prioritize Inclusion Processes and Policies
The final part of managing a diverse workforce? Making diversity and inclusion efforts a priority—and sticking to them. Far too many organizations institute diversity and inclusion efforts just to check a few boxes on their corporate goals or to satisfy regulatory and compliance regulations.
Don’t let your inclusion processes and policies become dusty old statements written in long-forgotten employee handbooks; keep them active, keep them top-of-mind, and change them as the times (and the environment) demands. It’s something that everything important to your success—your employees, your customers, and the world you live in—demands.
Implementing Diversity Management: The Challenges
Implementing diversity management in an organization is not without its specific challenges. What are the potential pitfalls one can expect when developing a diversity and inclusion strategy for their organization?
A specific focus on Diversity and Inclusion efforts for organizations is a relatively new development for the business world. Those wishing to implement these efforts may face pushback from those unfamiliar or uneducated about diversity and inclusion efforts (and their benefits for the organization). Patience and education are crucial to winning over those “traditional” thinkers; statistics (like those referenced here) can be extremely powerful for persuasive measures.
It’s critical to be clear and open with all levels of employees about the need for—and implementation of—diversity and inclusion efforts. Certain segments of the employee population may feel threatened or concerned about their standing in the wake of a sustained D&I program. Again, education, training, and clear communication from the top down about the program’s goals and objectives (at every step of the process) are key for avoiding this potential pitfall.
The “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach
Like snowflakes, no two companies are alike. What might work for one company’s diversity management efforts might not work for yours; a different industry, management structure, corporate culture, company history, or a host of other factors could contribute to one approach failing where another succeeds.
Adding another complicating factor? The specific problems of a global organization, facing the complex social issues of not only its home country but of all of the other places it might do business in. Be wary of thinking what is right for one organization is right for yours, and what is right for your headquarters country would be perfect for a satellite office. Careful planning, study, knowledge, and education for your organization’s specific needs are crucial for successful diversity and inclusion efforts.
Start Building an Inclusive Organizational Culture
Ready to take the first step into building an inclusive organizational culture and creating effective diversity management? The Inclusive Behaviors Inventory℠ from Aperian is a great place to start. This easy-to-use assessment allows employees to develop their own inclusion profile and get simple steps for improvement.
Designed with a different perspective than other assessment tools—emphasizing “putting people first”—the IBI features data based on science, a global lens on inclusion, and a seamless rollout experience to employees at all levels across the globe.
Leveraging diversity at your organization requires all employees to prioritize inclusion. Many of our clients have found success in doing so with the Inclusive Behaviors Inventory, an assessment enabling individuals to see how inclusive they are and get strategies for improvement.