Why Diversity Excellence is Even More Important Today

By Etheline Desir | Desir Group

Twenty years ago, diversity in leadership was a far reaching goal. Today we are faced with the realities of changing dynamics relative to the broadest context of diversity. Now the goal must be to achieve diversity excellence. Since globalization has become our reality, it is imperative that organizations find ways to transform their rich multiculturalism into quantifiable benefits for all. Where and how should we start that journey to diversity excellence? It starts by promoting diversity in leadership.

A diverse leadership team can offer a wider range of solutions to problems surrounding recruitment and retention, service excellence, equity of care, employee and student engagement, patient satisfaction, as well as adequate allocation of resources. Leaders from diverse backgrounds bring their individual talents and experiences that allow an organization to more effectively meet the needs of its diverse constituents. Diversity in leadership sends a positive message to lower ranking individuals about their own future.

Here are five easy steps to consider:

1. Create a culture of inclusiveness where everyone is truly valued, respected and appreciated—it starts with top leaders exemplifying desired behaviors.

2. Step outside of your comfort zone and partner with search firms that specialize in diversity—they tend to have a personal understanding of the nuances surrounding cultural “fit”. Teach internal recruiters about cultural sensitivities involved in recruiting diverse talent.

3. Foster an environment of honest curiosity; enable people to “learn” about cultural differences as opposed to “training” classes where people feel forced into compliance.

4. Teach about the harmful impact of unconscious bias and how it is exhibited in daily interactions with people that are different.

5. Focus on the broad positive impact of an inclusive excellence, challenging everyone to perform at their very best rather stressing the intent of diversity. Impact is harder to refute than intent.

Research from the Hay Group finds that highly engaged employees are, on average, 50% more likely to exceed expectations than the least-engaged workers; they also outperform them by 54% in employee retention, by 89% in customer satisfaction, and by fourfold in organization’s revenue growth.*

Diversity training during employee orientation is only an introductory step. Research shows that an executable diversity management plan must be created and implemented to establish a diversity culture that permeates the fiber of the organization to truly deliver diversity excellence.

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* Statistics from Hay Group’s global normative database and client business metrics;