This article is written by Alma Besserdin, Founder and Director of Wimmigrants of Australia, a Career Money Life Certified Supplier. You can read the original article on Wimmigrant’s website.
Diversity is one of the key priorities in many organisations. We know that companies with diverse teams perform better, they are more creative and staff engagement is generally improved. And yet it seems many organisations are still challenged to achieve effective diversity outcomes. For example, it’s not uncommon for an organisation to focus on improving the number of women in leadership positions or on improving engagement of other minorities, but in doing so they lose focus on other areas of importance. I’m committed to creating diversity that means embracing all different valuable qualities of individual’s lives: different ideas, knowledge and culture.
It begins with freely accepting individuals for who they are regardless of where they come from. Often in fact, adjustments are needed on both sides. Employees with diverse backgrounds may be limited with their own experience, values and beliefs, not realizing self-imposed limitations preventing their full potential. In other cases, it just may be that organisations are not skilled at how to embrace employees with diverse backgrounds. Many variations exist and we know that organisational culture drives employee engagement, so if individuals are not embraced with due respect for their differences, simply focusing on process or policy has little outcome.
In my coaching and mentoring programs, I come across lots of women and men of diverse backgrounds, who are “stuck” in the same job, not been progressing with their careers despite obvious capabilities. Merely visiting generic management courses to step up is not often the correct strategy as it may miss the core issues, resulting in inefficient pathways not leading to success for either individual or employer.
The latest research by the HBR 2016 shows that organisations who have established mentoring programs for culturally diverse employees have achieved greater results in improved individual and organisational capability, staff engagement and increased number of diverse staff in management positions.
The research also showed that the majority organisations that downsize, mainly lose their diverse workforce as these are mostly the ones employed in lower to middle positions. I am curious how many organisations analyze diversity data before downsizing to ensure they don’t lose the good work they did creating their diversity teams? It’s a hard one when organisations are under pressure to cut costs, but perhaps this can be incorporated in decision-making processes around managing staff.
I am pleased to see that many organisations have introduced Diversity Managers to focus on this challenge, but have observed that not many of them are people with cultural diverse background themselves. Perhaps this can be improved through targeted recruitment approach as part of overall Diversity Strategy.