A Local and Global Perspective on Diversity
ITAP’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) practice helps individuals, teams and organizations leverage diversity to achieve their desired business goals. ITAP sees diversity operating on two levels. One level is local. Here, we address issues such as diversity at the local school, hospital, or a local hotel, office or factory that hires minorities to join their existing labor pool. The second layer of diversity deals with diversity as an essential competitive advantage for global corporations, explained below in this page.
Diversity at Work: Diversity and Inclusion
With consultants in over 30 countries, ITAP understands that the perspective on and manner in which we deal with diversity on a local lever differs. In Europe, for example, ITAP serves organizations for whom diversity is often about “them,” and the diversity challenge lies in the tension between an older population and more recent migrants. Open borders within the European Union has resulted in greatly changed demographic makeup of communities. Dealing with this requires diversity expertise. Clients in Europe typically seek to get along better with “them,” and improve communication and collaboration.
In Canada and the USA, diversity and inclusion are commonly thought of as building upon the legal framework of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity which define certain “protected classes.” In the US, diversity work is often a compliance issue focused to protect the rights or the workers could be disadvantaged or discriminated against due to gender, age, sexual orientation, race or ethnic background.
While different perspectives on diversity exist between the US and Europe, it should be noted that there are diversity compliance issues in Europe and an extensive need for cross-cultural awareness in American work settings.
Organizations turn to ITAP with a variety of diversity and inclusion needs. ITAP’s approach is to link these needs to specific business goals. Drawing on a comprehensive range experience, ITAP applies leading-edge diversity and inclusion methods and technologies to help clients:
- Increase productivity and innovation to meet the needs of existing customers
- Expand their customer base to include distinct populations and demographic groups
- Strengthen internal and external communication and collaboration
- Promote employees on the basis of merit and performance
- Avoid discrimination and legal penalties
- Improve the recruitment and retention of under-represented groups
ITAP works with all types of organizations including:
- Large and Mid-sized businesses
- Government agencies
- Law enforcement
- School districts
- Hospitals and long-term care facilities
To make D&I initiatives sustainable, ITAP always ensures alignment with organizational goals. This is a foundational component of ITAP’s D&I practice. ITAP helps organizations create an inclusive workplace in which all stakeholders work together towards common goals or business outcomes. Diversity and inclusion are about the mix of similarities and differences in the workforce, taking into account human attributes. Clients seek interventions to improve operating results and manage their reputation by building cooperation and collaboration. The diversity intervention typically focuses on creating an inclusive workplace that welcomes the contribution of all employees, both regardless of, and because of their cultural identity.
Diversity as a Strategic Aspect of Global Competitive Advantage
As companies globalize to take advantage of new and emerging markets, a new and different dimension of diversity emerges. To be sure, the local aspects of diversity remain as the effectiveness of local teams is still important. There exists an evolutionary process in how organizations deal with diversity, but organizations do not necessarily go through a defined set of stages in order to integrate diversity as a business imperative. ITAP's strategic diversity services deal comprehensively with all aspects of diversity in order to continuously nurture a sophistication and informed decision making processes.
Stages of Global Diversity Integration
According to Dr. Geert Hofstede, the essence of corporate culture is a set of processes and symbols. These do not trump or overrule national corporate values. Rather, employees learn to operate or adapt in their corporate environments. As value systems operate on an individual level, employees will either thrive in their situations or perhaps leave if there is a mismatch between the individual and corporate values.
The first step toward integrating diversity is an awareness and recognition that there is such a thing as cultural diversity. Often that awareness is created through some form of negative impact on productivity, a lawsuit or a labor union dispute over promotions or hiring practices. Any of these could be such a precipitous event that creates awareness.
As a result, the company includes diversity as a corporate value. This includes creating the policies, practices and symbols to help employees and managers achieve the intent of that diversity value. These policies and practices include tracking employees by cultural group as percent of employee population, percent by level, percent hired, and percent turnover by group. Commonly, it includes training on cultural differences focused on issues such as reducing the turnover of a particular employee population.
These activities do not yield full payoffs in the form of competitive advantage until the diversity value is integrated into the business. This manifests in the form of tactics in product development, supply chain management, marketing, customer service, and management practices to focus all corporate activities on the needs of the global marketplace. ITAP's diversity consulting services are focused on guiding clients to a realization that diversity is a business imperative that yields competitive advantage. The challenge lies in transforming awareness to fully informed decision making on the tactical levels in all business functions.