Designing international Diversity Strategies

“The Conference Board” organised a WebCast about “Aligning Diversity and Business Strategy” on December 5th 2007. Michael Stuber, founder of European Diversity Research & Consulting presented how to design international Diversity strategies.First of all, it is important to note that approaches to Diversity & Inclusion are as distinct as the business strategies they are aligned with. The positioning of D&I either as a CSR, compliance or productivity issue will have strong impact on how the programme will be implemented and how success can be measured. Demographic trends, changing value and legal requirements seem to drive the decision to a necessity. But this “must-do” turns into a good choice when you look at the outcome. The return of investment concerns markets, customers, talents, shareholders, image, productivity and teamwork. Positioning Diversity: Implications need to be well reflected because the intention decides about the impact. If it is legally driven, it is in compliance with the law, and the concept is just adapted. But if it is driven by strategy, a fundamental systemic & cultural change process can be reached with a holistic approach that offers much improvement. Designing successful strategies means to analyse the identity (who we are) and formulate a vision. A widespread concept that integrates diversity into HR and process management, leads to success. A combination of conception work, strong belief in the motive and the right measures help to reach the goal.
Most activities cover Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Age and Disability (more than 80%). Religion and Sexual Orientation are not that much considered, but at least 72% cover Religion and 69% cover Sexual Orientation. There is a range of possible strategic approaches and measures. Examples are Kick-Offs (event, policy, manager), strategic linkage (personal massages, score card), grass-root involvement, inclusiveness (networks, complaint management, communication campaigns) and tactics, target groups and platforms. The measurement of progress or the quantitative or qualitative success or progress is segmented into different parts: for measuring progress, milestones and incidence repots can be implemented. The project process can be measured in participation, impact and press coverage. The quantitative output is shown in form of presentation, pay and turnover, and the qualitative output in employee satisfaction, candidates’ profiles, and incidence cases. Measuring benefits can be taken by recruitment image, customer loyalty/ feedback and productivity.
But can this procedure be applied globally? We find different cultural, societal, legal and demographic contexts. U.S., Europe, Africa/Asia/LatAm are in developmental phases. And every region has its strength. Europe is multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, but the U.S. contains civil rights history, legislation as everyday implications. The challenge is to maintain self-awareness for the own perspective by using universal tools. Aligning Diversity with overarching strategic issues and managing the multitude of Diversity issues is the perspective for the future. Expanding the scope of Diversity concepts to include Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and ensuring an impact on personal conduct and leadership behavior another one.
Diversity is easy to start, but difficult to maintain, especially the core is tricky. It is profitable but investment is required.