Diversity Management – A culture based management approach
Published on 01-08-2017
Diversity is regarded as a new ‘must-have’ to be successful as a company. Executives, however, often fear for discrimination among employees or are overwhelmed with the challenge of managing a diverse workforce. Diversity Management is a relatively new cultural management approach and considered as a new best practice to prevent discrimination as well as supporting a diverse working environment. We had a closer look at the concept!
We all experienced at least once a situation of being ‘the new one’: Maybe you had to change schools as a child, when you started at university or attended a party barely knowing any of the guests who all seemed to have known each other for years. Starting a new job can be quite a similar experience with many new impressions and challenges. Wanting to be part of the group is thereby often one of the prevalent thoughts. The only way to achieve this is by learning and adapting to the social standards and values of the organisation and its employees. As soon as ‘the newbie’ understands those values he or she should be successfully integrated, theoretically. This, however, is often way more difficult in reality, especially for employees from a minority background. Stereotypes and prejudice complicate the already complex integration process even further. The question “Am I ever going to fit in?” becomes a daily mantra.
Belonging Uncertainty – Is it the right place for me?
Social psychologists call this kind of self-doubt ‘belonging uncertainty‘ and it has a huge impact on both, work performance and social relationships within a company. Especially during times of change we rely on relationships and social interaction that supports and helps us. Social relations with other employees give us a certain stability, orientation and fasten up the process of learning the unwritten rules of our new work environment. When employees feel insecure, however, it affects their confidence and productivity, as they spend mental energy trying to figure out whether they belong or not.
But how can we minimise the feeling of ‘belonging uncertainty’ for new employees? A management approach that focuses on cultural fit and diversity could be a solution.
The Charta of Diversity defines the idea of diversity management as follows:
„The valuation of the variety of employees, male as well as female, serves the economic success of the companies or the institutions. Aim is to straighten personnel processes and personnel politics of organisations in such a way that, on the one hand, the staff reflects the demographic variety of the work environment as well as, on the other hand, employees feel valued and are motivated to introduce their potential to the benefit of an organisation. “
This management approach can lead to many advantages. Among other things, diversity management leads to
- More flexibility
- More stability
- More creativity
- A higher capacity of innovation
- Long term growth of the organisation itself
Practical Implementation of the Approach
Diversity management is without any doubt a challenging matter. Not only the work force itself becomes more diverse and complex but also its brings with it further demands and potentially problems. A true challenge for every manager!
This is partly because the integration of diversity management cannot be a short time project but rather aims towards a long term change of a company’s culture, including more openness and respect among each other.
Purpose of executives and line managers
During one of the first phases, diversity management is supposed to create an open corporate culture and spread this culture among staff as well as management. Executives fulfill an important exemplary function and they have to support the development of being consciousness about diversity and variety among employees and, on top of that, explain the importance of it for the organisation’s success.
To successfully implement this next steps should include face-to-face meetings with employees, leading to an open dialog within the company itself. A mentorship program during the onboarding process is an excellent example for such a strategy!
Cultural Fit and Diversity go hand in hand!
Recruiting matching employees is important to a successful diversity management approach. Recruiters possibly need to identify a different type of talent during the recruitment process and persuade them successfully in joining the company. One possible strategy could be based on the cultural fit of candidates. Unfortunately, the concept of cultural fit may have, undeservedly, a rather bad reputation in terms of diversity. If applied correctly, cultural fit and diversity not only complement one another but go hand in hand!
Responsible managers often base their hiring decision on the so called gut feeling and therefore hire candidates due to personal preferences or stereotypes. Cultural fit, however, is so much more than that!
Particularly a clear definition of the company’s culture as well as a clearly structured recruiting process are crucial for a successful implementation of cultural fit. Also, the correct formulation of job advertisements is enormously important.
In general, recruiters should not only focus on a complementary as well as supplementary fit but also on a possible “cultural contribution” of a candidate. In other words, the personality of a candidate does not have to be a 100% match with the corporate culture, cultural fit is about shared values. The candidate needs to contribute something positive to the already existing culture of an organisation. Cultural fit therefore does not aim to create a grey monotonous workforce but instead develop an active and colourful corporate culture. Within this, diversity plays a major role!
Diversity management can therefore be described as being both: To spread and nurture the already existing culture within an organisation as well as change or adapt it by hiring new employees based on the concepts of diversity and cultural fit. There is still a long way to go but helped by the newest technology and recruiting software as well as a deeper understanding of diversity itself, we are off to a good start!
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