Answers to Tough Questions
What is diversity all about? Diversity is about all of the various differences each of us brings to the workplace or customer base. Diversity can refer to differences such as race, gender, language, where we went to school or even in what professions we choose to work. Managing diversity is the process by which we are educated about those differences in order to fully leverage the talents and skills of all employees. It is about creating an inclusive environment in which all employees can contribute.
Is diversity just an American issue? With the growing global marketplace, diversity is not just an American issue. Organizations all around the world now conduct business with customers and hire employees with different backgrounds, languages and customs.
Do diversity initiatives include white males? Yes, absolutely. White males are diverse; for example, they have varying levels of education, different religious beliefs, divergent thinking styles, etc. For diversity initiatives to be truly successful everyone in a company should be included. Successful diversity initiatives are based on inclusion, not exclusion.
Why do I/we need diversity training? Diversity training is essential because each of us looks at the world through filters that are developed based on our own unique experiences. Diversity training helps us learn about those filters and how they impact business decisions, work styles and personal relationships that ultimately affect the success of an organization. By learning how to work more effectively together within our teams and organizations, we can ensure success in the global marketplace.
Isn't diversity just a current business fad, a politically correct thing to do? No, diversity is a business issue. In the global marketplace, corporations compete for top talent as well as customers. Companies with robust initiatives for managing diversity will be more effective at attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse workforce as well as developing and selling to a diverse customer base.
Isn't diversity just a new look for Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)? EEO and Affirmative Action (AA) are legally mandated requirements that address the representation and treatment of minorities and women in the workplace. Managing diversity focuses on maximizing opportunities for all employees to contribute in the workplace, thus enhancing business success. For more information, see Background Information in the Resources section.
Doesn't diversity work take time and resources from more important work like quality and customer service? With a global marketplace, demands for quality and customer service come from an increasingly diverse customer base. Who better to respond to a diverse customer base than a diverse workforce? A diverse workforce will be able to respond to quality and customer service issues with first-hand knowledge of the communities they are serving.
Why do we need to change our work environment? It works fine for me. Each of us is different. It's not enough for the workplace to be fine for one person. It is imperative that the work environment functions well for everyone. By managing diversity, a company can make sure that every employee feels included and respected and is able to fully contribute to the success of the organization.
What's really in it for me? By addressing diversity issues and personal biases, managers will improve their relationships with employees, thereby enhancing their success. For individual employees, participating in diversity initiatives improves their communication and teamwork skills, reduces conflict in the workplace, and improves their ability to work effectively in the global marketplace.