Connecting Organisational Development with Diversity: A Strategic Change Imperative
Diversity is becoming a strategic change imperative at many organisations, and for good reason.
Studies show that organisations with a more diverse workforce – in terms of gender, ethnicity and race – are more productive, more efficient, and ultimately, more profitable.
Diversity, of course, starts with hiring policies that are able to attract the best and brightest and convince them to join the company. Often, this means searching for talent in non-traditional places that may not be accessible using today’s hiring strategies. This means moving beyond just campus-wide job fairs, and hosting specific events on campus for underserved communities. It means reaching out to these diverse workers online and showing them how you are building a progressive corporate culture that welcomes diversity in all its forms.
There has long been a gender gap in the workforce, especially in industries that are heavily dependent on workers from the STEM (= science, technology, engineering, math) professions. That’s an increasingly important concern since excluding women from the workforce means that some technology companies are ignoring a source of human capital that can propel them forward. That same story plays out with other underserved groups and communities as well.
It’s no wonder, then, that companies are taking steps to address this gender gap.
In the technology professions, the whole movement around coding and programming is taking on new dimensions as women join the computer science field thanks to new initiatives that are specifically tailored to them. This is helping to address the gender gap in the STEM fields. What researchers are finding is that cultural stereotypes and societal perceptions act as enormous obstacles to women joining these types of sectors.
That same story is true when it comes to other forms of diversity, especially in terms of race and ethnicity.
As organisations become global, what is needed is a team of individuals who can operate across a variety of geographies, cultures and mindsets. The world is flat, as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times famously noted. And in that new, flat world, it is needed to commit to orgasizational development based around diversity. It requires a dedication to creating a corporate culture that leverages the skills and talents of a diverse workforce.
Once solely the preserve of the HR department, which was entrusted with hiring a diverse workforce, diversity is now the strategic imperative of the entire organization. This is especially true in industries and sectors experiencing a skills gap, such as the technology sector. There is a reason why companies are using work visas to find and hire talented foreign workers – these are the types of workers who not only add to diversity of an organisation, they also provide a source of competitive advantage. That is because a more diverse workforce helps to provide points of connection for all elements of a company’s growth strategy.
The next step, of course, is not just hiring a more diverse workforce – it is in ensuring that this workforce thrives such that these workers move into positions of leadership, and eventually, into the executive suite or onto the boards of companies. Only then will the strategic imperative to hire a diverse workforce be truly served!
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