Diversity Management

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on October 30, 2010

Diversity refers to any perceived difference among people in terms of age, race, religion, profession, geographic origin, and lifestyle or any other perceived difference. It is more than just equal employment and affirmative action. It is actually about ensuring that the factors are in place for the development of the workforce by mending the actual and perceived differences and thereby ensuring that the workers are able to achieve maximum productivity. It is about creating congenial atmosphere for all the employees to work effectively and efficiently. So inorder to achieve this, the company should support diversity at workplace and also ensure that a diversity management policy is in place in the company. Now with globalization every organization has a people from diverse backgrounds working in the company and hence it has become more than necessary to have such a policy in place.

The reason why diversity management has become a necessity in today’s workplace is

1. The number of women employees joining has been increasing in the last few years
2. The companies have a large number of young employees on their rolls.
3. The younger generation is demanding international assignments. As a result they would be exposed to people of different nationalities when they go on these assignments.
4. The mobility of the workforce is also increasing.

Advantages of having a diversity management policy:
1. Helps in attracting new talent and also in reducing attrition.
2. It helps in reducing the absenteeism among the employees
3. Helps in increasing the employee morale and also their commitment.
4. It helps in making the employees think creatively and innovatively.
5. It helps the employees to interact with people of diverse background.
6. It also helps to create opportunities for people with disabilities.
7. It helps the company to improve their image to the outsiders.

Diversity Management

One of the earliest companies to adopt/implement diversity management practices is IBM. So let’s have a look at the various aspects of their Diversity Management Policy

IBM’s Diversity Management Policy
Diversity at IBM is defined “to be an all-inclusive, encompassing not just race, gender and physical abilities, but differences in culture, lifestyle, age, religion, economic status and marital status”. IBM views workforce diversity to be based on 3 pillars
1. Equal opportunity: It is defined as non-discrimination and non-harassment
2. Affirmative action: It is intended not to provide an advantage, but to eliminate disadvantage and provide all groups a level playing field on which to compete.
3. Work/Life balancing programs:  It is about providing a workplace culture and environment where the employees can perform the balancing act in their responsibilities comprising of work, family, education and other personal needs.

Advancement of women is one of the focus areas in diversity management at IBM. The company recruits, retains and promotes the best female staff available and also ensures that they are also key drivers in achieving the success of IBM. The way in which this is ensured is by
• Mentoring and coaching women.
• Emphasizing on executive and technical resource programs.
• Regularly carrying out work/personal life employee surveys.
• Conduct diversity specific hiring programs.

Workforce Flexibility and Balance:

It is about providing a flexible workplace culture and environment where the employees can perform the balancing act in their responsibilities comprising of work, family, education and other personal needs. IBM is a responsible company which acts in the welfare of the company by creating flexible work environment and give them more flexibility in terms of where, when and how they wish to work provided they are able to balance their personal and professional commitments. Flexibility at workplace helps the company to attract and retain the best of the talent available in the industry and also ensures increase in productivity and efficiency of the employee. It believes in inclusive work environment where innovative ideas and suggestions are welcome irrespective of the gender, disability, ethnicity etc.. It also has a well developed policy in place for the disabled employees.

Cultural Awareness and Acceptance:

IBM provides the employees a workplace where they feel they are welcome and are valued. This is done by bridging the cultural differences among the employees. IBM provides the employees various education programs in the field of diversity such as diversity and inclusive leadership, culture and business, culture and globalization, working internationally, networking, dealing with people with disabilities, harassment and valuing diversity. The way in which these sessions are conducted is via lab or through e-learning.

Integrating people with disability:

The first disabled person was hired by IBM in the year 1914. Since then IBM’s policy for people with disabilities has revolved around 3 A’s.
1. Accommodation: IBM ensures that campuses are equipped with facilities which ensure that disabled people are able to work independently and effectively. For e.g. Braille signage in elevators, lowered water pipes and wide doors.
2. Accessibility: IBM provides such employees tools to help them work efficiently such as voice recognition software and homepage reader.
3. Attitude: IBM actively recruits and promotes people with disabilities. It promotes attitude of non-discrimination and offers opportunities to deserving individuals. There is regular round table meeting with such employees to understand and address their concerns. It has also initiated forum for disabled employees known as Enablers. They are employed in variety of roles ranging from Project Management, Programming, Consulting, Human Resources etc.

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