In today’s fast growing and global economy, businesses risk falling behind as leaders in their key sectors if they continue to be reactive and not proactive in relation to diversity and equality.
By 2010, 50% of the UK workforce in urban areas will come from diverse backgrounds. With the word ‘Global’ following the word ‘Economy’ in almost every business case, diversity a key government initiative companies cannot afford anymore. The following are constantly a reminder of why diversity is key to the success of every business in the UK today:
1. Age discrimination
2. Bullying and harassment
4. Equal pay
6. Race discrimination
7. Religious discrimination
8. Sex discrimination
9. *** orientation
Here at Diversity Success, we focus on developing and equipping people from diverse backgrounds with the soft skills required to help employers gain a competitive edge in today’s global economy while helping employers understand the following:
1. Diversity and the business background 2. Understanding diversity and its effects on employers 3. The impact of diversity on business performance 4. The consequences of failing to manage workforce diversity 5. Key factors that influence the effects of diversity 6. Diversity and the business case 7. Understanding and implementing diversity measures 8. Successfully measuring the impact of diversity to make progress. 9. And using diversity to gain a competitive edge over competitors.
For example, Halifax Building Society increased profits by £130,000 at six branches trialling an older workforce and Nationwide Building Society saved £7million in staff turnover costs by widening the recruitment age.
I met up with Celia Oke, one of UK’s leading Diversity & Equality consultants for the Job Centre Plus and after hours of sharing ideas and opinions, we came up with a number of critical points to implementing a successful diversity and equality strategy.
It is not ground breaking news that we are in the people business and people buy into people before they buy from them. Global diversity has come of age and in today's constantly changing business environment, a multicultural Britain with different cultural values, beliefs and standards, if you are not recruiting the right people, i. e. people who understand your customers, then you are not ready to succeed in a global and diversified business economy.
In order to increase sales, improve customer loyalty and satisfaction then employers must be proactive in adapting a workforce that spans across time, space, cultures, and geographies.
This means that managing global diversity effectively is imperative for businesses that want to be faster, better, and more cost effective in the chaotic and complex global marketplace.
During my informal chat with Celia Oke, I finally came up to the following 7 conclusions for a successful diversity success strategy:
1. Where the head directs, the body follows: Global Business thinkers recognise that implementing a diversity success strategy is a business and social opportunity to increase productivity and growth. As a result, it should be high on the priority list when business leaders are determining the financial success and growth of the business. If the head does not direct the body, the body can do nothing. Business leaders must therefore invest the time and money needed to develop, implement, monitor, and review a diversity strategy that will have a positive impact on business, employees, suppliers, customers, products, and services.
2. Birds of the same feather flock together: In order to win and retain more customers who are constantly from diverse backgrounds, then you need to see, speak, hear and understand their language and way of life. To do this you need a diversified team – A global team that can speak the language and understand the way of life of your customers. Their key role must be to identify, define, design, and launch a successful global diversity initiative for your organisation. Include participants who represent diverse regions, countries, cultures, and languages already existing in your community. Let every implemented initiative be focused on creating a workforce that reflects the economy.
3. Assumption can be the mother of all failures: Knowing your current workforce culture and its effects on previous, current and future customers is key to identifying key diversity issues; globally, regionally, and by country. If your employees cannot engage your customers at all levels, then your competitors could be winning over your customers. Identify the barriers in the environment that prevent people engaging your employees and vice versa. You can do this by working with locals to find out what differences make a difference in their country or region and learning how those differences help or hinder people from performing to peak potential.
4. Communicate don’t tell A well thought out communication plan must involve learning how to listen to the needs and requirements of employees and customers alike. Consider the responses and not the reactions of local communities by understanding local preferences. This ensures the support of a global diversity initiative. Make sure you understand the business objectives of Senior leaders and be ready to present how a diversity led initiative can help meet their business goals.
5. If you are doing it – Front it Creating awareness for your diversity led initiatives among employees and communities will secure the success and growth of not only the initiative but also the business. You can do this by educating the workforce to increase awareness and build the skills needed to lead, manage, and team effectively in a globally diverse organization.
6. Accountability can secure proactively Where people are held accountable, an answer is always expected for every action. If it can be measured, dated and recorded, it can be analysed, assessed and improved. Evidently companies succeed by making their employees and departments accountable. A diversity led initiative should be no different if you are to sustain a successful campaign.
7. Reflect! Reflect!! Reflect!!! If you have an end date in mind, then you might as well mark that date as a drop in profitability and sales. Globalisation is here today. It’s always been here and it’s not going to go away. To remain in it is to effectively and continually manage your Diversity led initiatives. It is a continual process that is integral to the success and future of the business. An open ended project not a closed one. Always work in terms of outcomes and communicate these outcomes to Senior leaders, departments and the communities involved. Remember, your mission is to sustain the loyalty and satisfaction of your customers. You can only do this by communicating feedbacks to all parties involved.
By Keji Giwa
Managing Diversity for Success
By: Elizabeth K. McArthur
By Doug Harris, Managing Director and Leader,
The Kaleidoscope Group, LLC
ProGroup's 10 Critical Success Factors for Global Diversity Success
DIVERSITY SUCCESS STRATEGIES
By Norma Carr-Ruffino, Ph. D, Professor of Management at San Francisco State University since 1973
By Keji Giwa