Having a diversity policy has become synonymous with ‘avoiding discrimination’; employing the ‘right’ number of people from minority groups; promoting enough females to senior positions; or striking the delicate balance between performance management and bullying. This positions diversity as a one-way process designed to advantage the employee, but with less focus on the benefits it brings to the employer. If we are completely honest, a lot of us probably see diversity as a chore, something that can get in the way of ‘business as usual’.
When we asked a global sample of HR professionals what they would be focusing on during the coming two years, diversity featured at the bottom of the list: below the likes of leadership development, employee wellbeing, engagement, employer branding and recruitment and talent attraction. Only 12% admitted diversity was a major challenge that they were actively trying to address.
So why are we writing a paper about a topic to which our audience appears to be fairly ambivalent?
Through our research and interactions with organisations around the world, we are seeing increasing evidence for promoting diversity from a ‘nice to have’ ‘box-ticking’ exercise on the public sector agenda to a global imperative. Our research is showing that the definition of diversity is changing and that managing diversity is actually an indirect way of addressing those HR issues higher up the priority list. Organisations that are realising this are the ones with not only an interesting mix of people, but also an agile workforce with a point of difference.
Read our Challenging the Status Quo- Diversity at Work whitepaper.