October 2006, Traits of a Diverse Organization

Traits of a Diverse Organization

What does it mean to be a diverse organization? Consider the following:

Diverse organizations recognize that:

– A diverse organization’s culture is based on inclusion and not just on representation.

– Diversity is a mindset, a continuous process and a way of doing business—not a one day program or two hour training.

– Diversity is proactive and always imperative. It does not only become important when there is a discrimination complaint.

They reflect their commitment to diversity in many ways:

– Top management endorses and actively champions the company’s diversity initiatives. It is not solely an HR function.

– Culture change is driven by the CEO and others in the executive suite.

– Diversity—in the form of inclusion—is reflected in the mission and vision of the organization.

– Diversity is integrated into the overall business strategy.

– There is visible diversity at all levels of the organization.

– While visible diversity is a benchmark, the organization uses a broad definition of diversity to include the unique skills and talents of each individual.

– Everyone is seen as part of the organization’s diversity and the goal is to make everyone’s needs and concerns a part of the mainstream diversity effort.

– Compensation is tied to diversity efforts.

– Employees are recruited from a diverse pool of candidates.

– Company recruiters are trained in bias reduction so that they don’t choose candidates based on assumptions and stereotypes.

– Diversity is reflected in company literature, website, and any photos or artwork on the walls. Language in printed material is inclusive and speaks to everyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability, or any other diversity dimension.

Diverse Organizations create systems and processes to manage diversity:

– There are processes in place to resolve conflicts and prevent miscommunication that can be costly to the organization.

– There is a system in place to communicate openings and opportunities throughout the organization.

– Affinity groups are sponsored and attended by people from different backgrounds.

– Opportunities for cross-cultural mentoring exist and are encouraged.

They also know how to leverage the diversity they have:

– The organization draws from the wide range of experiences and perspectives to find more creative solutions to problems and be more innovative in developing new products and services.

– The unique skills and experiences of each individual are leveraged to help make the organization and employee more successful.

– People from different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions and physical abilities are seen as resources for different markets, but not necessarily sent to those markets to represent the organization.

As a result, Diverse Organizations create effective and comfortable environments where:

– Each person has an equal chance to show what they can do.

– All people feel included and are able to do their best work for the organization.

– People are comfortable and able to relate to employees and customers from backgrounds different than their own.

– People are comfortable discussing differences and similarities with each other.

– Employees from different backgrounds feel included in the mission, vision and the organization itself.

– People from different cultures and backgrounds interact and share ideas and resources as opposed to clustering with only people who look and think like them.

– The organization is known as a place where all kinds of people succeed. It acts as a magnet that draws in diverse talent.

Is this an accurate picture of your organization? If not, consider engaging Simma Lieberman Associates to help you design a strategic diversity initiative for 2007.

Call Simma Lieberman Associates at (510)-527-0700.

Give Yourself the Gift of Life/Work Balance this Holiday Season

The holiday season can be an extremely busy time for many people. It’s easy to get stressed and feel overwhelmed especially if this is when business picks up for your organization. It also means added activities like buying gifts, grocery shopping for the out of town guests, fixing up your house, extra cleaning, and dealing with more traffic on the roads and people in the street.

And, if you have a diverse community and multicultural family like I do, there is always one more holiday to celebrate and one more place to visit.

In our very first newsletter in 2002, holiday stress was something we covered in detail. We welcome you to go back and read the article there, Are Holidays and Hair Loss Synonymous.

Here are a few tips to relieve some of the internal feelings of stress and overload:

– Create a holiday mindset—think of what you like about this season and why you are entertaining and/or spending time with friends and family.

– Accept the fact that there are more things to do, and allow yourself to deviate from your regular schedule. Be flexible with your time and know that there will be some things that may not get done. Use some of the practical tips in our article Tips for Managing Holiday Madness.

– With so much diversity in the holidays and how people celebrate them, view this as an exciting time to learn new things and try new kinds of food. Take a look at our article, Appreciating Diversity During the Holidays and create a mindset of curiosity or as intercultural specialist Kate Berardo says, develop your Culturosity.

– Start planning now so you don’t get caught up in last minute overload. Decide what you will say ‘yes’ to and when you will say ‘no’. Reward yourself when you say ‘no’ to something you really don’t want to do. If you get overwhelmed allow yourself to take five minutes alone and just sit and take some slow deep breaths to help you regenerate. There are so many holidays beginning at this time of year – Ramadan, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Denali: the Indian Festival of Lights, Chanukah, Greek Orthodox Christmas, New Years, and people just getting together. My son loves this time of year because there are at least three holidays where he gets presents from friends and family. If you don’t celebrate any holidays, this might be a good time to do something enjoyable for yourself where it is calm and quiet.

– If you let yourself view the coming weeks with excitement, it will be easier to enjoy yourself, reduce the anxiety of trying to maintain a schedule, and add extra activities, and feel more relaxed.

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