With the rapid pace of globalization, organizational leaders manage a much more diversified modern workforce. Immigration and economic factors are shifting the demographics of the workforce and are driving a change in how companies leverage cross cultural teams. In turn, there is a growing focus on diversity management for many organizations and executives.

Leaders often decide they need diversity in their workforce to be more effective in reaching customers or relating to clients. However, the most effective organizations, tend to be those who not only diversify their associates but use their diversity to increase the cultural competency of their employees. By understanding the cultural nuances, they create an environment where people feel like they can be unique yet integrate well with others for greater success.

The challenge presented to organizations is how to effectively implement diversity initiatives?

  • Is training leaders and associates the answer?
  • Is developing focus areas across an organization the solution?
  • What is the best way to approach diversity without creating silos that exclude others?

There needs to be a balance and a well thought out approach to diversity that incorporates an inclusive strategy engaging people internally across the organization and externally with customers.

Organizational psychology research casts doubt on the simple belief that a diverse workforce inevitably improves business performance. In addition, many argue that diversity training alone does not solve the inherent need to break down stereotypes, bias and even unconscious bias.

To address the growth of diversity, companies need to understand the type of diversity that are most important and relevant to their business. Organizations must get to know their customers and understand what types of diversity have the greatest impact on the business and what their customers want. Then, organizational leaders need to learn more about their internal teams to identify the diverse make up of their associates. By understanding the diverse impact of both internal and external environments, they can foster an inclusive environment that generates dialogue about what is most important for their customers. Enabling group think with a variety of cultural perspectives and unique ways of approaching the business will enable innovation and success. Companies will benefit from the diversity of perspective, diversity of opinion and ultimately diversity of thought.

Many companies have adopted diversity programs yet failed at their approach.It takes emotional intelligence and social intelligence to rise above our need to justify or validate ourselves (which happens when we surround ourselves with people who think the same way). It takes a certain level of social competency to engage people with different ideas and perspectives and to step away from what we know and what is most comfortable. Strong organizations need to create an environment where different ideas and diverse approaches are not only encouraged but fostered – creating a diverse yet inclusive workplace.

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