This is an important question. One that really began for me whilst pursuing my post graduate studies in Human Resource Management in 2004. I had actually never really heard of ‘diversity’ despite already having had some experience working in the HR recruitment function. There were a number of compulsory modules we had to take as part of the HR course – diversity was not one of them – it was an optional module which I choose purely out of curiosity. One of the first questions I remember asking the tutor during the course, more so upon realising its strategic interconnectedness to the HR function, was why ‘diversity’ was put forward as an optional module, and not as a compulsory one?? Was this reflective of the organisational mindset as to where diversity as a strategic function should actually sit? Indeed, little did I know at the time that this question would be one that would occupy not just my thoughts, but the thoughts of the HR and business community for a while to come…So, what’s my view? Where should diversity as a strategic function sit? Should it sit within HR, within business operations, at corporate level or indeed as a function by itself? The vivid picture that keeps coming to mind is the inner workings of the wheels of a watch: Each wheel is complexly arranged such that as one wheel turns, it interlinks with the turning of the wheels of the other, each independent but yet totally dependent on the other for their movement. As a strategic function, diversity is like one of the intricate and necessary functional wheels such as HR, Marketing, Finance, Payroll, etc – that keeps the whole organisation ticking…purposively… Continue reading
Tag Archives: strategy
Diversity FAQ’s No 19: How is diversity connected to Business Strategy: Part III – ‘Decision making’
“All human beings are necessarily products of their environment” – Burrhus Fredic Skinner, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
The above statement by Skinner, though true, implies a limitation: that human beings are limited by what they know. Indeed, what they know, and that which limits them, is derived from the socio-economic, cultural and political interactions they have within their specific environments. But it is also true to say that of all living things on the planet, human beings constitute that species which has the ingrained ability to constantly overcome these apparent limitations – through the effective use of intelligence – and herein lies the key point our topic of discussion attempts to answer:
It is my thinking that at the heart of effective decision-making lies the question of intelligence, that rational ability all human beings use to overcome their natural limitations so as to aspire toward greater levels of intelligibility and hence higher strategic clarity. The process of overcoming Skinnner’s environmental constraints, I suggest, necessarily involves engaging a varied number of ‘intelligencies’ – and by implication their related range of experiences – using these as strategic building blocks during the decision-making process to access higher levels of intelligibility. Continue reading
As a ‘diversity professional’, some may question the reasons for engaging the chosen topic as it may appear to inadvertently question the very profession I have chosen as my area of expertise – which ultimately puts bread and butter on my table every day. Indeed, given reported cuts to the ‘diversity agenda’, diversity training programs, coupled with the fact that a good number of diversity jobs were amongst those cut off the back of restructuring programs in response to prevailing economic conditions, should this be a topic that we address at this time given clear sensitivities??
I think so. Indeed, the demise of diversity managers as explained above, itself serves as the precise reason for taking a step back to reflect on what may have gone wrong with regard the actual value organisations perceive diversity brings, which may have lead to the cutbacks in the diversity profession, and by implication, its initiatives and key services.
But before proceeding, there may be a need to address a key aspect of this question: What is the ‘21st century organisation’? What does it look like and what are its prevailing needs?
The 21st century organisation is symptomatic and characteristic of the following post-modern realities: Continue reading
I liken the above topic to the following story:
Two friends, Jack and Jill were on their way home from a party in the early hours of the morning. As they sat in their cab ride home Jack said to Jill, “Remind me to get some milk at ‘The 24hr Shop’ around the corner from home”. Jill replied: “We’re at least 30mins away from home, its 2am, will it be open?” Jack looked at her disbelievingly and responded: “What kind of a question is that Jill? It is called ‘The 24hr Shop’. Of course it will be open!!”
I have often wondered why many organisations remain hesitant at placing Diversity at the very heart of overall business strategy. Indeed, many organisations request a business case for diversity to further justify reasons for ‘engaging’ it as a business area. What this may point to, I suggest, is a gap in understanding. It is not business that creates diversity rather it is the very fact of diversity that creates business. Diversity is the coming together of different individuals from cross socio-cultural backgrounds and the different creative ideas they possess that leads to the development of new and fresh strategies needed to create, and keep businesses afloat so that they remain sustainable and competitive.
It is little wonder then that organizations that do not see the fundamental connection between diversity and overall business strategy commit a fundamental flaw in the logic of business strategy akin to the story above: Just as ‘The 24 hrs Shop’ implies within its title that it ought to be open for 24hrs, so too business practice ought to imply the practice of diversity as fundamental to its very existence. Indeed, a 24 hrs shop that is not in fact open for 24 hrs creates a logical absurdity in our minds regarding the choice of the name of the shop. In the same vein, I argue, businesses that do not have diversity as fundamental to business practice commit a logical absurdity in understanding business creation, development and continued sustainable operational success. Continue reading