Diversity can no longer be tangibly defined. The “face” of diversity is constantly changing, expanding and evolving. Diversity in the workplace now includes a lot more women, and an increasing variety of minorities. It includes a workforce that is aging more than we have seen in the past as well as a decline of middle-age workers.
But, the ambiguity of diversity comes into play when you consider that gender and ethnicity are no longer the primary characteristics of diversity. They are simply the characteristics organizations tend to focus on, and where they invest the majority of their talent management resources. With respect to diversity, most organizations have yet to maximize their potential when it comes to talent as a key differentiator.
The organizations that will be most profitable in the long-term will take the time to lead below the surface relative to diversity in the short-term. To have the most effective company strategy, senior leaders must lean in around, and diversify the talent strategy. They must enable a culture that responds to and supports the changing face of diversity. They must train leaders to be savvy at identifying the current root of success, and agile at identifying talent from fresh perspectives that can continue to move the organization forward.
The diversity perspective beyond gender and ethnicity should include:
* Thought Process
* Work Experience/Industry
* Different Ability
* Client Facing/Remote
* Educational Background
In order to evolve the diversity perspective, leaders can start with recruitment and training. Improving recruitment will require changing the process. This may mean utilizing different job sources (Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, Company Job boards, etc.). It may require an organization to change the verbiage in their job description or attending different types of job fairs to attract a more diverse pool of talent. It may be necessary to conduct panel interviews to provide more diversity of thought in the interview.
From a training perspective, current leaders may need support growing their mindset and understanding how to apply the learnings. Training could come in the form of e-learnings, one-on-one development with a manager, group workshops, etc. The key is in the follow up and ensuring that there is clarity and success in the application of the learnings.
The face of diversity, and the needs associated with it, will continue to change. An organization’s failure to minimize or eliminate the respective ambiguity on behalf of its employees, customers and shareholders, could be devasting. Diversity cannot be an ambiguous afterthought of leadership. It must be woven into the strategy with clarity.