Diversity management emerged from the fundamental premise that it was ethically, legally and morally incorrect to discriminate individuals on the basis of their gender, culture, ethnicity, color of the skin or sexual preference. However as years have passed by perceptions on diversity have changed. Today organisations embrace diversity not just for increasing employee morale.
Lot of businesses claim that having a more diverse workforce has increased their overall effectiveness. The claim that it helps them tap into newer segments in the market, increasing their global visibility and branding both as marketer and an employer. Thus it has been proven beyond dispute that diversity is “good” for the business.
Bringing inclusion into a business is no simple challenge. In fact there are examples on how attempts to bridge diversity in the workplace have backfired because of heightened conflicts between employees which in turn negatively impacted teamwork and brought down productivity levels. If a workplace has to be inclusive a major attitude vis a vis perception change is required at all levels.
People would need to move beyond the age old definition of diversity which is trying to increase the representation of traditionally underprivileged “identity groups” into a more contemporary one. Diversity should be an effort to bring in and accept varied and newer perspectives, market insights and approaches to work that diverse identity groups can bring in.
Employees who are essentially labelled as “outsiders” bring in refreshing and competitively relevant inputs on not just how work needs to be done but also on how processes can be revamped, what their people prefer in products that the business sells or services it delivers, how concepts and ideas can be communicated better and a whole lot of other things. All this may spell major change for the “insiders” . To be able to wholeheartedly accept it is not an easy thing.
Managers and leaders have to be aware of the extent of change. They also need to know how to steer people towards it without hurting emotions or sentiments which are sure to run high. Communicating the change can be a very sensitive issue and requires high levels of empathy. This is where training can act a gap-filler or the bridge.
Why is Diversity Training Necessary?
- Help the change agents to understand behavioural priorities and preferences of people involved in the change so as to manage the change better.
- Understand how to communicate to people with varied behavioural priorities by knowing what they like to hear and how they prefer to hear it.
- Know how to structure difficult messages and how to deliver them without creating more confusion by a deep understanding of behavioural choices.
- Predict how different people would react to the change of attitude that being inclusive requires and be prepared to handle them with a clear cut plan of action.
Behavioural tools like DiSC Assessments have proven their worth in helping organisations manage change since it focuses on behaviour as the tool for it. Being a part of a DiSC Certification program can help people improve their understanding of the DiSC model and how it can be applied to resolve issues that may arise during diversity management.