Diversity – not just a Business Case

Organisations need new and innovative ways to progress and create shareholder value and as the available workforce changes organisations have to transform at an increased pace, meaning managers must develop new skills to perform in these complex environments.

Diversity is a business imperative; it is a fundamental and necessary part of contemporary business.  Evidence exists that points to gender diversity as beneficial to organisations, but in order for this to really be of consequence, diversity needs to be more than just a program, it has to become part of the fibre of the organisations workings.  By ‘maximising’ diversity instead of just ‘managing it’ organisations will become more adaptable and flexible, (Ospina 1996).  Organisations must develop skills to manage complexity, adaptability and volatility, creatively, resilience and innovation.  To do this, organisations have to equip their managers to manage diversity and to shift it from a nice to have to a must have competency.

Diversity is about the management of complexity, building resilience within your organisation, embedding sustainable leadership thinking that enhances integration and cohesion.  By making new and diverse connections within your workplace, organisations harness and promote innovation and creativity.  Far from being a cost to bottom line profitability, diversity is a strategic imperative.  It is the new resource to increase revenue by using effective diversity programs to integrate the attributes of complexity and resilience, then leveraging them to create new environments for change and business transformation.

The question should no longer be, “Should we have a diversity program”, the question should be “how do you leverage difference and create new connections to differentiate yourself”.

Reframing ideas of diversity

Konrad (2003)[1] discusses the limitations of the business case by linking it to what she claims is an outdated “trait model of diversity”: the business case argument often ignores the destructive impact of stereotyping, prejudice, and institutional and interpersonal discrimination. Ospina (1996)[2] refers to “maximizing” diversity as opposed to “managing” diversity to acknowledge that diversity can actually push the organization’s frontier if effectively leveraged.

Reframing diversity and placing it squarely into strategy sees it working across difference as a core leadership task, getting diversity right by welcoming each person’s unique contributions, leading to a more adaptable and nimble organization in the face of today’s complex world.

Compliance to gender diversity legislation is a starting point but the real value comes when compliance converts to proactive action, realising the benefits of diversity.  The economic hit to the bottom line transcends diversity economics at an organisational level, stimulating economic growth at a macro level.

The Diversity Program Review Framework™[3]developed by Susanne Moore is a diagnostic tool that assesses and measures the effectiveness of a company’s diversity program by deploying the following  five organizational assessment dimensions; Program Management Capability, Cultural Integration and Acceptance, Organisational Vision and Strategy, Innovation through Diversity and Performance.

The Diversity Program Review Framework™ incorporates a widely accepted set of Global Diversity & Inclusion benchmarks previously developed in a US federally funded research project (O&R) by O’Mara and Richter (2011)[4].  The framework uses these benchmarks as a foundation, and builds on them to address a whole of organizational approach to Business Transformation.

The Diversity Program Review Framework™ allows organistions to;

  1. Baseline their diversity program against known benchmarks
  2. Assess the health and effectiveness of their diversity program against the five organisational dimensions
  3. Monitor the progress of the program along a capability maturity growth path
  4. Develop and Identify proactive interventions for improvement in areas where performance and innovation could be discovered or improved,
  5. Report against the programs progress and current country legislation

Find out if your organisation is on track to reap the benefits of diversity, book a complimentary, ‘coffee break session’ with Susanne today using the contact form, or call my partners, The Principal Structure for more details.


[1] Konrad, A. (2003). Defining the domain of work- place diversity scholarship. Group & Organization Management, 28(1), 4–17

[2] Ospina, S. 1996. Bringing Opportunity Back In: Organizational Inequality and the Study of Work Attitudes Journal of Administrative Theory and Praxis, 18:1, pp. 27-40.

[3] The “Diversity Program Review Framework™” (Moore, S 2012) incorporating the “Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World” (O’Mara, J, Richter, A 2011)

[4] “Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World” developed by O’Mara, J, Richter, A (2011),

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