Corporate Efforts to Promote Diversity: The New Millennium Paradigm
According to the new millennium paradigm of diversity management, it is the conscious process of welcoming, embracing and managing different types of people in business in order to achieve competitive advantage through creativity, better use of talents, better understanding of the marketplace, better teamwork, and reducing the risk of lawsuits. As pointed out by Draft (2010), Robbins and Coulter (2012) and some other scholars, following are some of the important corporate efforts and initiatives vis-à-vis diversity management that are being used by the leading companies.
1)Diversity-Friendly Policies and Structures
Traditionally, many policies within organizations were designed to fit males and selected category of people. Now leading companies are changing structures and policies to promote diversity. A survey of Fortune 1,000 companies conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership found that 85 percent of companies surveyed have formal policies against racism and gender discrimination, and 76 percent have structured grievance procedures and complaint review processes. Likewise, at least half of Fortune 1,000 companies have managers solely devoted to diversity management.
2) Expanded Recruitment Efforts
Many companies today are expanding their recruitment efforts to give people opportunities, and developing creative ways to draw on previously unused labor markets.
For example, Marathon Ashland Petroleum created a six-point recruiting strategy to increase diversity, including:
- recruiting corporate-wide and cross-functionally,
- building relationships with first- and second-tiered schools to recruit minority students,
- offering internships for racial and ethnic minorities,
- offering minority scholarships,
- establishing informal mentoring programs, and
- forming affiliations with minority organizations.
One of the consequences of having few women and minorities in top corporate leadership positions is that lower-level diverse employees lack someone to turn to for support or advice. That’s where a mentoring program can be beneficial. Mentoring is a process whereby an experienced organizational member (a mentor) provides advice and guidance to a lessor experienced member (a protégé). Mentors usually provide two unique forms of mentoring functions-career development and social support.
One researcher who studied the career progress of high-potential women and minorities found that those who are more successful in their career path share one com strong mentor or network of mentors who nurtured their professional development. For example, Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products, the first woman to hold that job in the female oriented products company, said that her male mentor (previous CEO James Preston) had the most influence on her career.
4) Accommodation of Special Needs
Many people have special needs of which top managers may be unaware. For example, numerous people entering the organization at the lower level are single parents, the company can reassess job scheduling and opportunities for childcare. If a substantial labor pool is no English-speaking, training materials and information packets can be provided in another language, or the organization can provide English language classes. Thus, various arrangements like childcare center, maternity or paternity leave, flexible work schedule, telecommuting or home-based employment, and part-time employment can be made to Cater the needs special of people. Likewise, various events can be organized to recognize and value the differences among people.
For example, Standard Chartered Bank Nepal Limited has made arrangements of childcare center, 24 hours bank’s doctor, 140 days maternity leave, 14 days paternity leave, staff emotional well-being enhancement program, a formal talk platform with senior leaders called ‘pulse sessions’, annual staff party, and special committees for organizing and celebrating events like Teej and International Women’s Day.
5)Diversity Skills Training
Most of the today’s leading companies provide diversity skills training to help people identify their own cultural boundaries, unconscious biases, and stereotypes and develop the skills for managing and working in a diverse workplace. Companies can use online training, classroom sessions, experiential exercises, videotapes or DVDs, and outside consulting firms that help
organizations with diversity management issues.
6) Awareness of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment creates an unhealthy and unproductive work environment. To eliminate it, companies may offer sexual harassment awareness programs that create awareness of what defines sexual harassment and the legal ramifications of violations. Although psychological closeness between men and women in the workplace may be a positive experience, sexual harassment is not. Sexual harassment is illegal. Statistics in Canada indicate that between 40 and 70 percent of women and about 5 percent of men have been sexually harassed at work.
7. Multicultural Teams
Leading companies, now, are recognizing that multicultural teams – teams made up of members from diverse national, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds – provide high potential for enhanced creativity, innovation, better customer service, and better decisions. For example, Rhone Poulenc Rorer (RPR), USA, has a French CEO, an Australian head of operations, an American general counsel, an Egyptian head of human resources, and an Italian director of corporate communications. Multicultural teams typically face the problems of miscommunication and misunderstanding, but with effective cross-cultural training and good management, teams can learn to work well together.
8. Employee Resource Groups
Employee resource groups (also called employee network groups or affinity groups) are the group of employees formed on the basis of some common dimension of diversity such as gender, language, nationality, culture etc. Such groups typically firmed by the employees themselves, not the organizations. However, it’s important for organizations to recognize and support these groups. They pursue mentoring programs, cultural events, minority intern program, community volunteer activities and so on. Als Network groups are a powerful way to reduce social isolation for women and minorities, help employees be more effective, enable members to achieve greater career advancement, and retain employees. At Kellogg, for example, there is a WOK (Women of Kellogg) group, a KAARG (Kellogg African American Resource Group), !HOLA! (Kellogg’s Latino Employee Resource Group), K-GERG (Kellogg Multinational Employee Resource Group).
9) Performance Evaluation and Reward Systems
If the effective management of diversity is a valued organizational objective, then employees should be evaluated and rewarded for their contribution to this objective. Division managers at Exxon Mobil are required to present career development plans for 10 females and 10 minority males at annual review program. At Lockheed Martin each business unit is ranked using a mathematical “diversity maturity model” that includes surveys of employees. Part of each manager’s bonus is tied to the unit’s score. Likewise, Coca-Cola, American Express and Bayer Corporation now tie managers’ pay to their achievement of diversity goals.
To sum up, survival of the fittest is not only the law of jungle, but also the hard reality of today’s business. Thus, companies that welcome, embrace, and manage diversity can reap several benefits such as improved employee morale, reduced conflicts and turnover, increased creativity & innovation, better understanding of the marketplace, and better teamwork, and low risk of lawsuits. When managed properly, it can create a win-win-win situation between business, communities (local and global), and the government.