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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

9/10/2007

HR Trends #1a -- Diversity

(Also posted on the CaribHRForum discussion list)

Imagine the setting of a corporate meeting room, and a critical point in the meeting when a CEO turns to the VP HR, looks them dead in the eye and says:

CEO Question:
We need a diverse corporate culture. How do we go about building one?

VP HR: I'll have a plan to discuss with you in a couple of days.

In the plan presented, the VP HR (who hopefully has been thinking about this for some time,) has laid out the following:

  1. Based on the strategy we are following, what are our 10-20 year goals?
    If we don't have any, then diversity is a moot point because it's a capability that cannot be built today, but only years in the future.

  2. In what way does it need to be diverse?
    Does it need to be more diverse than our society at large? If so, in what ways? Here are some examples: ethnicity, age, gender, education, sexual orientation, religious background, native language, class, etc.

    If we are looking to sell religious icons to people from different faiths, we had better hire people who understand those faiths.

    If we are looking to have a very creative workforce, we had better pay attention to those studies that say that tolerance and creativity go hand in hand. Our hiring must be flexible enough to attract people of all backgrounds.

    We will need to define the new target population that we want to have in our workforce, and compare it to what we have today.

  3. How do we get there?
    There are a few levers that we have to play with.
    • One is that we change the way that we hire. We can specifically tune our outreach efforts to bring in more people with different backgrounds. This is relatively easy to do.
    • The second lever to use is a change in the corporate culture. This is particularly hard to do.
    • There are several angles to take at the same time when creating a cultural intervention:
      • -- authentic leadership by example
      • -- performance management
      • -- public events
      • -- large group seminars
      • -- personal coaching
We can design a culture that will help us to attract the right kinds of people, giving us whatever kind of diversity we want.

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