Diversity Management

27 October 2021

Proactive diversity is necessary.

Globalization and other major world events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall (consolidation of East and West Europe), wars in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan etc, the aging populations and low birth-rates in major economies of the world have facilitated massive movements of talent from one place to another - mainly to the West.

From a microscopic perspective, in South Africa, where I live, we have seen massive transformation of workplaces since the fall of apartheid in 1994.

This transformation is facilitated by the introduction of employment equity laws, resulting in women and people of colour slowly moving into senior positions that were previously occupied by white males.

All these megatrends point to a dire need for proactive diversity management programs to help organizations manage and leverage on these changes.

In the workplace diversity management is a process of creating a working environment that is both inclusive and diverse.

It values what every employee brings to the table as unique so that the organization can grow and succeed accordingly. The overarching theory is that when employees come together from different backgrounds, creative problem-solving processes grow in turn. This is thanks in part to an increased number of varying perspectives.

A diverse workplace can help organizations in variety of ways.

Mainly, it can serve as a reflection of a diversifying world - thanks to demographic changes, globalization and a digitalizing workplace, diversity can help teams to be better attuned to the many needs of their customers.

A study by Glassdoor shows the following advantages of a diversified workforce:

  • Ethnically diverse and inclusive companies are 33% more successful.
  • 1,7 times more likely to become innovation leaders in their field.
  • Have better odds of attracting top talent, as 67% of job seekers care about diversity and inclusion.

Originally diversity management was primarily about discrimination in recruitment and promoting tolerance within the company. But over time, things have evolved to where companies recognise the importance of diversity in the workplace as a key competitive advantage.

Here are some tips on how companies can craft their diversity programmes:

  • Include it in your business plan- set goals and how these will be achieved and rewards for achieving them.
  • Recruit candidates from outside your networks.
  • Start from the top with inclusive leadership.
  • Determine job candidates’ perspectives on diversity during hiring.
  • Take action right away-in many companies diversity issues tend to be more theoretical in workshops rather than in actual action.
  • Design your staffing approach around diversity and inclusion

Themba Mthombeni
Partner, South Africa


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