CONFUSION: WHICH DIRECTION FOR D&I?

After 15 years of European Diversity models, many wonder what organisations have achieved in D&I and where they are heading. With the significant expansion of the number of diversity programmes, the immense renewed public attention and also with many new stakeholders involved, the dynamics in the field have changed significantly. The multitude of influences and backgrounds has also created a landscape of competing approaches, and a noticeable disagreement on anything from evaluating the status quo to describing the vision where we need to be. The most disputed topics include …

  • Should there be a broad Diversity concept, not only encompassing multiple dimensions but also dealing with the many overlaps, inter-dependencies or commonalities, or do we need a renewed focus on the ‘preferred’ topics of gender, race, ethnicity and culture? While the question was predominant in the early years of Diversity, it was less rampant in recent years but brought back with the discussion of quotas for women. From a business perspective it is clear that a both-and-approach is needed – and it is possible even if people deny it.
  • Do we need further and ongoing work on the business case or has this been proved so excessively that it should be taken for granted? Is there instead a need for more elaborate KPIs to monitor progress and steer D&I processes? Most people who are newly introduced to Diversity will naturally pose questions about the strategic fit, the business benefits and the immediate urgency of the concept.. Hence, we have to be prepared to patiently answer these questions while at the same time developing new tools to measure progress of larger and longer-term programmes that are supposed to have much more impact than those ten years ago.
  • Are Diversity trainings or other D&I specific intervention programmes still adequate, effective or required? Many argue that Diversity should instead be integrated in general education curricula and corporate events. Clearly, change management models show that an initial focus on the topic is needed in order to build baseline understanding on which further programmes could be built upon. If the initial phase is skipped, one may not overcome the never-ending questions about the what, why and how.
  • Should D&I be driven and owned by the business and what role would HR then have? While the vast majority agrees that Diversity should be treated as a business issue, we should also accept the reality that most D&I tools and initiatives continue to be developed and implemented by HR – probably for another ten years. The partnership of the businss and HR must hence be slightly different from the general way of collaboration.All these and other trends tell us that we need to be able and willing to deal with even more ambiguity than before. And we need to practice a both-and-approach in the above and other areas. Hence, we can be sure that our jobs will continue to be rich and challenging in many ways.

In this spirit: Enjoy our winter holiday issue