Once upon a time, diversity was regarded as a matter of employment equity or affirmative action…an idea now as outmoded as cassette tapes. In...

by Julie b. Kampf

CEO and President
JBK Associates, Inc.

Once upon a time, diversity was regarded as a matter of employment equity or affirmative action…an idea now as outmoded as cassette tapes. In today’s world, a diverse workforce is widely regarded as a key business imperative and should be incorporated into every organization’s strategy. A diverse workforce can deliver better decision-making, better products and services, happier customers, increased productivity and a better bottom line. According to FORTUNE magazine, companies that enjoy a diverse and inclusive culture outperformed the S&P 500.

In 1996, there were fewer than 10 executives nationwide responsible for diversity. Today, almost every Fortune 100 company has one. However, surveys consistently report that diversity management is not well understood.

Successful diversity management is about unleashing the rich and diverse potential of an entire workforce. Here are seven steps to build a better diversity strategy:

Define your terms. Everyone has a different idea about what diversity means. Beyond race and gender, it can also include but is not limited to considerations of age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, mental and physical capabilities, gender identity, family status, language, opinions and working style. Define diversity for your organization as there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Be realistic. When setting goals, involve everyone who has a responsibility for diversity, from the CEO on down, as buy-in is critical. But also manage their expectations. Diversity management is complex and not every company will advance at the same pace.

Build in metrics. Diversity management should measure progress toward specific, quantifiable long- and short-term goals.

Assemble your resources. You can’t achieve your goals as a company if you don’t have the right human or fiscal resources in place. Just by saying you want to become a diverse organization doesn’t guarantee that you will get there.
[sws_pullquote_right]”Successful diversity management is about unleashing the rich and diverse potential of an entire workforce.” [/sws_pullquote_right]
Set up a system. Talent acquisition is about attracting the best talent from a pool of outstanding individuals of diverse backgrounds. Once you’ve attracted the talent, you must enable them to become part of the established culture of your organization.

Educate. Everyone needs to be trained. Managers must be educated about the benefits of diversity and the processes necessary to achieve it. Employees must be given the coaching, mentoring and skills they need. Without training, you risk losing your best talent to your competitors.

Demonstrate CEO support. Employees take their cues from the top, so your most senior executive must be able to articulate the business case for diversity.

Diversity is the creation of an organizational culture where the best people want to work, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, where people are promoted on their merits and where opportunities for success are available to all. Embedding the principles of diversity management in everything helps in achieving your company’s most ambitious business goals.

Julie B. Kampf is CEO and President of JBK Associates, Inc. (www.jbkassociates. net), an award-winning executive talent solutions firm that focuses on bringing diverse senior executives to companies across a wide spectrum of disciplines and industries. JBK Associates has been recognized by Forbes, The American Business Awards, and Working Mother Magazine, among others, is a certified Woman Owned Business (WBENC) and member of the UN Global Compact.

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