What does diversity mean for your organization? What does your organization care about? Discover the many reasons why organizations embrace a diversity and inclusion strategy.
- Why does your company care about diversity? And based on that answer, what does diversity mean to you? In my work I've found that the answer to the latter question might look really different depending on what country you're talking about. You want the reasons for diversity from your global diversity strategy to align with the reasons you promote diversity in your home country. So the first reason is the moral or fairness argument for diversity. The moral argument focuses on creating equality for groups that have been historically disadvantaged.
Depending on what country you're in, these groups are going to be really different. The second reason for diversity is compliance with legal requirements. Clearly, legal requirements are going to shift depending on what country you conduct business in. If you're doing diversity to comply with the law, it's going to look really different no matter where you are. For example, in the US, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against employees over the age of 40. In most of Europe the equivalent law prohibits discrimination against persons over 50.
Also in the US, using quotas as a way of increasing the hiring of women and minorities is illegal. In contrast, many European countries use quotas to increase the number of women on corporate boards or in specific industries, or in government. The third reason for diversity is talent shortages. In some countries, talent shortages may not be a problem. In others, the shortage of workers is going to be immense. ManpowerGroup finds that talent shortages are at their highest in the last decade. In the US, 40% of companies report difficulties in finding qualified talent to fill jobs.
In Japan, this number is about 80%, but in China it's closer to 20%. If the primary driver of your diversity initiatives is a lack of talent, that argument might not make sense in some countries. The fourth reason is to mirror the customer base to improve your ability to reach those customers. Again you need to consider the customers you're serving in each area. A recent study examined the effect of ethnic diversity of movie casts on Hollywood blockbusters between 2011 and 2015 on box office revenues.
They came in with the question of why most movies, nearly 2/3 of movies have no black actors in any lead roles. Maybe movies with minority actors earn less money, right? The truth is, they gross more money. Having greater diversity increases box office revenues, because people want to see movies with casts that look more like the population. The final reason is having diversity of thought, and this would ring true anywhere. Scientist Phil Tetlock has done an amazing job demonstrating how experts can be wrong at predicting world events. He also compares the accuracy of experts versus small groups of diverse novices in predicting world events, and you know what? The novices perform better than the experts.
The point is, when people have different perspectives, they're able to mitigate groupthink and come up with creative, innovative, and even more accurate solutions. It's essential that your company articulates your reasons for caring about diversity, so that you can appropriately adapt that to a global context. This way, you can adapt your diversity strategy to any cultural context, while still remaining true to your company's core values around diversity.
- How prioritizing diversity and inclusion is good for business
- Establishing accountability
- Creating a global diversity strategy
- Creating a localized strategy
- Using benchmarks to track the progress of your efforts
- Measuring diversity program success
- Diversity and inclusion in Brazil, Russia, India, and China