Managing Diversity: The Why and How

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If you wonder why managing diversity matters, you are probably only beginning to scratch the surface on diversity and inclusion at your organization

Why managing diversity well really matters

In case you missed the headlines, this isn’t your grandfather’s workplace any more. Although many organizations may still look a bit too much like your grandfather’s workplace, the market forces at play won’t let them stay like that for much longer. The call for creating an organizational culture that enables more women and minorities to move into leadership positions is not quieting down any time soon.  There’s an increasing body of research that supports the business case for diversity at the top. For that to happen, managing diversity well at the lower bands becomes ever more important if you wish to avoid losing your diverse talent before they have a chance to reach executive positions.

Diversity and inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels valued - This beautiful painting was part of an exhibit at Centro para la Cultura y las Artes Dr. Alfredo Espino, de Ahuachapán, organized by Aprovipdes, El Salvador

This beautiful painting was part of an exhibit at Centro para la Cultura y las Artes Dr. Alfredo Espino, de Ahuachapán, organized by Aprovipdes, El Salvador

Managing diversity recruitment

Before we even delve into managing diversity, a few words on the value of having a sound diversity recruitment strategy in place. I’ve heard diversity and inclusion professionals say way too many times that their numbers of X (women, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, you name it) in such and such department are low because there are no candidates with the required qualifications. I admit that there may be fewer numbers of women or Latinos graduating with technology degrees than what the market needs. But the truth is that, in most cases, that is not the reason why the Diversity & Inclusion team can’t hire them. Most of the time it’s a question of not having a good strategy for managing diversity recruitment. Meaning, the organization is only recruiting from Ivy League schools or from universities with low minority representation.

Managing diversity recruiting: If you want to recruit diverse candidates, look into smaller colleges, state schools, and Hispanic serving institutions. | Photo Credit: Picture taken at NHBA meeting

If you want to recruit diverse candidates, look into smaller colleges, state schools, and Hispanic serving institutions.
Photo Credit: Picture taken at NHBA meeting

Let’s be clear. Given how expensive college education has become, it has forced many people to pick a school that is not one of the top 50 colleges in the country. It has forced many great students to work while attending school, therefore choosing local or community colleges. It has forced many fantastic students to attend state universities. These are students who are very likely to be more mature and have greater work and life experience than many of the college graduates you can hire from top colleges. So managing diversity well also means looking outside the box when you recruit. It means to go where your candidates are. An easy way to find Hispanic college grads, for instance, is through HACU.

Managing diversity means understanding what diverse employees look for

When someone who does not belong to the majority represented in your company comes to work every day, do they feel welcome? Do they feel that their cultural differences are appreciated? That their being there is not about checking off a box but about the value they bring?

Can women be themselves or do they have to adapt to a masculine style to advance?

A big part of making diversity and inclusion work is being able to answer these questions honestly in order to assess any blind spots. Only when you know how your employees experience their differences will you be able to address that experience. Discounting it or attempting to return to a workplace where managing diversity was about treating everyone the same will likely backfire.

You may be interested in reading:

What Is Cultural Diversity & How to Make it Work!

3 Examples of Cultural Differences in the Workplace

How companies are managing diversity and inclusion — Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion at Thomson Reuters, shares her take

As an expert in the diversity and inclusion field, what are companies missing when it comes to managing diversity?

Managing diversity is about focusing on talent. It’s important to think of diversity as one important component of the (so called) “talent wars.” As companies compete to hire the brightest and best talent, it is important to realize that a lot of that talent will increasingly come from diverse communities and global growth markets.

Why is managing diversity in the workplace a business imperative?

There are countless studies that have proven the value of diversity to unlock innovation, corporate performance, stock valuation and corporate governance. In short, diversity makes companies more successful, and the research seems to point to a clear relationship between high performance and greater diversity.

The value of diversity is its capacity to challenge group think #quote

The value of diversity is its capacity to challenge group think

How is managing diversity different from managing a homogeneous group of people?

To manage diverse groups well one has to be focused on the overall benefit. The value of a diverse team is its capacity to challenge the norm or group think and thus boost organizational performance and improve decision-making. Diverse teams have proven quite valuable for innovation and in our current market a company’s ability to innovate is an imperative for their success.

What are some of the successful diversity & inclusion strategies you’ve implemented in your company?

Our initiative to position ourselves as an employer of choice among female employees has led to new Life and Work Integration Policies across several of our geographies (including parental leave, flexible work­ing and unpaid leave, and increased domestic partner benefits,) leading to Thomson Reuters being named a Top 100 Company for Remote Jobs by FlexJobs, as well as one of Indeed.com’s Top 25 Best Companies for Work-Life Balance.

Red Shoe Movement OnSite session at Thompson Reuters

RSM Onsite Event at Thomson Reuters

In 2012 Thomson Reuters created a People Goal for all managers that is linked to each manager’s performance assessment and diversity is featured prominently in the valuation of that goal. Managers are asked to contribute to the development of a diverse pipeline through a number of ways including, but not limited to, participating in management programs with a focus on diversity and inclusion, conducting meetings (exploratory or informational) with potential diverse candidates, and including diversity in the development plans of employees.

What’s the best way for Diversity and Inclusion strategies to be fully integrated with a company’s overall business strategy?

Building a compelling business case for your company is key. Not all companies are built the same. To be successful, diversity & inclusion specialists need to ensure a link between business priorities and diversity and inclusion. Think about how to define diversity in a way that is compelling to your company and is connected to its growth sectors.

It is also important to keep in mind that diversity & inclusion is now a global question. Look at the emerging talent needs of your company and the developmental gaps of your workforce, and use that to inform how diverse candidates can be part of the solution.

And lastly I would say, don’t work in silos. Diversity and inclusion professionals must rely on influencing a number of important players in order to succeed. Identify sponsors, partners and champions for your work. Sometimes you’ll find these in the most unlikely places.

You can connect with Yrthya Dinzey-Flores at:  yrthya.dinzey-flores@thomsonreuters.com

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The Top 10 Qualities of a Good Leader
Integrated Talent Management that Fuels Female Leadership
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Award-winning, best-selling author, corporate consultant and international speaker on career success and women empowerment. Frequent media contributor on CNN, Univision, Telemundo and others. Her latest book "Find Your Inner Red Shoes" is the backbone of the Red Shoe Movement.

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