Lets face it. Regardless if you like it or not, we are all dipped and fried in diversity everyday. Yes... EVERYDAY. Diversity shows itself in the cars we drive, the food we eat (I like sushi and I am not Japanese!), the music we enjoy, where we choose to live, and even our choice of entertainment. At work, we see diversity in ages, cultural backgrounds, skill sets, experience, etc... it all equals PEOPLE.
As a leader within an organization, you are faced with the challenge of managing such a dizzying array of differences both internal AND external. The savvy and successful leader will be the one who views diversity as a resource. Taking that resource and using it to position the organization to take advantage of the market it serves and the markets that you want to tap into.
Lets look at a few points to consider when it comes to creating a diversity investment program:
1. Have a clear definition of why you have a diversity investment program and what you are trying to accomplish with it.
It is not enough just to get into diversity for the sake of being able to say you did it. Diversity is an investment in your organization. Therefore, you must consider how this investment is going to turn into a profitable venture for you. What are the goals you have in place to achieve? What does success look like? How are you going to measure and manage the growth? Just to name a few.
2. Develop and manage clear objectives to your diversity investment:
A. Diversity drives attitudes. Understand and capitalize on how diversity can shape the behaviors of existing and potential customers. Understand how to harness the resource of your diversity investment. Take advantage of the different styles of production and idea generation that diversity brings to your staff and the culture of your organization.
B. Develop an action plan to increase awareness, celebrate, and harness the role it plays in your organizations success.
C. Create strategies to combat the slippery and damaging slope of stereotypes and inappropriate behaviors aimed at an individual or an entire group. This can damage and potentially destroy your investment and the progress of your organization.
D. Recruit, develop, and retain talented people from multiple backgrounds.
3. Create tools to evaluate and identify indicators of progress or benchmarks that your organization is trying to achieve. This should be based on how your diversity investment has contributed to your organizations growth.
The bottom line is the fact that diversity is not going away. It is a rapidly growing resource that quickly becoming the primary tool of the leading organizations of the world. In this global economy and global social environment we live in, the "business" of diversity and inclusion makes good "business" sense.