What does D & I mean in your country? Manager’s Choice

Pamela Harding, HCS, SHRM-SCP, SPHRCHRO of the World’s Largest Independent Operator of LinkedIn Groups

In the US, some people obviously take diversity very seriously indeed: Renée James, president of Intel, recently announced a $300 million five-year investment into the training and recruitment of computer scientists within female and other under-represented groups.

Lockheed Martin’s CEO Marillyn Hewson recognizes the benefits too, noting developments in energy “were only possible because different people with unique perspectives looked at these challenges in new ways. Innovation is powered by diversity and fostered by inclusion.” A handful of Silicon Valley companies have recently started to make similar noises. There is also plenty of research such as http://bit.ly/DelDnI from Deloitte (pages 84-92) pointing to the business benefits of diversity and inclusion (D&I).

But directors’ messages about D&I are not getting through. According to research from the Roffey Park Institute at http://bit.ly/RPIDnI roughly one quarter of senior and middle managers think that diversity is simply a compliance issue. The share rises to nearly two-fifths of junior managers, with some people dismissing diversity and inclusion (D&I) as a tick-box exercise to satisfy the pressures of political correctness.

But is D & I a global issue? We have so many different cultures I suspect that there are very different viewpoints outside of the US. Is D&I important where you are? What segments are important in your country – Gender? Race? Sexual Orientation? Is D&I actively pursued and a reality in your organization?

Will D&I take another generation to become widespread? Or is it really gathering pace? Will it become the global business norm? Or will it remain effectively impossible in many national cultures anyway? I’m fascinated to hear your thoughts.

My Response:

Pamela,

You have struck an interesting nerve with your post.  Working with the HR profession on the peripheries as an HR Technologist, I believe the research’s assessment of what diversity means to many within companies is on the mark.  But to me, it is not compliance, it is leverage.  And with HR understanding this clearly, it is imperative they push culture to understand what diversity means to the workforce and the company.

Technology has opened up new avenues of collaboration unheard of before.  Between connections, knowledge management of vast amounts of information, “crowd-sourcing”, and creating new communities of interest, we could tap in to what was termed recently – Collective Genius.

I learn from others (I hope they learn from me) and the shared insights create new ways of thinking of both what the problem is and what is the potential solution.  Companies adopting collaboration through existing networks (partners, distributors, customers, etc.) are finding both ways to solve existing problems and also new ways to grow their business, non-traditional in some cases (like Starbucks entertaining opening a dating service with their coffeehouses as meeting places).

Diversity is the foundation of new thinking….something we can ALL use.

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