A common challenge when designing diversity and inclusion (D&I) interventions is knowing where to start. Should people professionals tackle recruitment bias through training programmes? What about building an inclusive leadership culture? How about plugging the huge gaps in monitoring data? Diversity and inclusion issues can present themselves in many ways, so knowing what to fix can seem difficult or even impossible – and the result can sometimes be practices or interventions that are disconnected or even ineffective.
When considering what employers can do to to further D&I, the CIPD’s latest research focuses on six priority areas identified in its workshops with D&I professionals.
- understanding organisational context and adapting D&I approaches accordingly
- getting buy-in and commitment to D&I
- making use of people data to guide and evaluate action
- using diversity training effectively
- managing the tension between ‘organisational fit’ and diversity
- the role of positive action approaches.
The importance of understanding diversity at a local level
An effective global D&I strategy will take into account local-level issues, challenges and opportunities. One potential barrier to this concerns the diversity of senior-level management and its ability to connect with local workforces. Case study research in a Germany-headquartered multinational found that a lack of diversity among the ‘global elite’ management made it more difficult for them to appreciate cultural differences in its UK offices.8 As a result, employees found it difficult to voice their concerns.
Another important factor in enacting international D&I strategies is local-level attitudes towards diversity – that is, whether it is generally seen as a legitimate issue that should be discussed. Diversity is simply higher on the agenda in some regions than others. For example, research in an Austrian multinational found that while the head office prioritised D&I practices supported by an equality charter, these gained little traction in its subsidiary in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this local context, managers felt a focus on diversity management was unnecessary as legislation required them to treat all groups equally (this suggests a lack of understanding of diversity rather than exemplary law).
Please join us on 11 March for our #DiversityManagementThatWorks event with Jonny Gifford. Jonny is CIPD research adviser for organisational behaviour. His interests include employee voice, social technology, workplace conflict and the application of behavioural science to HR. Previous research roles were at Roffey Park Institute and the Institute for Employment Studies.
This event looks at an evidence-into-practice programme, which brought together professional expertise on D&I with insights from scientific research.
Our lines of enquiry came from a group of D&I professionals discussing the challenges they faced in their work and the concerns raised by their stakeholders. Combining these with a review of scientific literature, we present a series of recommendations on how to implement diversity management that works.