Is there still anyone out there who doesn’t think that workplace diversity is a good thing?
Diversity gives you access to a greater range of talent, not just the talent that belongs to a particular world-view or ethnicity or some other restricting definition. It helps provide insight into the needs and motivations of all of your client or customer base, rather than just a small part of it. And, potentially, as McKinsey & Co and a host of other highly credible researchers have shown, it makes your organization more effective, more successful, more profitable.
However, actually achieving it in practice has turned out to be far more difficult than anticipated.
Our research at RSM suggests that, despite a genuine will on the part of most major organizations to implement productive diversity strategies, few, if any, have to date come up with something that really works.
So what is going wrong and how can it be put right?
Firstly, it seems that too many organizations make the fundamental error of failing to align their diversity practices with their organizational goals. And in such situations, no matter how much good will there is towards the concept of diversity, the harsh realities of running the business on a day-to-day basis, of keeping customers satisfied, of selling and delivering the product or service will keep undermining it. And secondly, there is often a mismatch between how organizations design diversity policies and how they implement them. Or to put it another way, what looks good on paper too often falls apart in practice.
However, while our investigations produced these rather dispiriting findings, they also helped us to identify four clear steps towards making workplace diversity a reality:
Of course it’s a cliché to say that nothing worth achieving comes easily. But it’s also true. And the benefits of true workplace diversity are so obviously attractive that the challenges inherent in it simply have to be addressed. And we hope that the four steps outlined above will, at least in part, help to do that.
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