Utilising Diversity as an Enhancement

Globalisation, demographic and social developments require continuous changes in enterprises.

When the working population declines appreciably, when enterprises pursue their activities at many different locations all over the world, when employees look for possibilities of reconciling their work and private lives, traditional human resources policy is placed in doubt. Intercultural communication and co-operation are called for.

European companies compete for the favour of an increasingly multicultural customer base. They work with people and companies from different countries and with different cultural backgrounds. In addition to the use of modern information and communication technologies, what is mainly in demand is a diverse workforce.

New corporate concepts and staff development strategies help to exploit the potential of these workers with their different cultural backgrounds and individual needs. These differences, combined under the term diversity, place new demands on management and employees in relation to corporate culture and health policy.

Practical consequences

Proceeding from the practical experience gained in the different fields (e.g. ageing workers, work-life balance, equality of women, integration of handicapped workers etc.),  EfH enterprises have identified the following factors, in relation to diversity, as crucial conditions for corporate success:

  1. Worker participation

    Workers at all levels are to be integrated and involved as early and as fully as possible in a needs survey, analysis and implementation of improvement measures.

  2. Business case (benefit arguments)

    As the various areas of diversity are in some cases severely tainted with controversial values and general principles, it is crucial to clearly highlight their contribution towards achieving core objectives in an organisation from the very outset.

  3. Communications and the creation of awareness

    A clearly laid out, consistent and approved communications policy creates the framework for broad participation and acceptance of the business case, in particular among executives and middle management.

  4. Practical and verifiable improvements

    As in all other fields of business, changes must be designed on the basis of understandable and verifiable objectives.

  5. Target group accuracy

    Depending on the field, analysis and intervention must be geared to the specific needs of the respective target groups.

  6. Flexible work organisation

    Flexible and worker-oriented measures of work design, together with culture and executive development measures, form the heart of all efforts to successfully implement diversity practices in companies today. This includes flexible working time regulations and work design to suit a particular target group.

  7. Diversity-friendly leadership and management systems

    If diversity-friendly leadership and management behaviour is to be spread throughout companies at all levels, not only do appropriate standard qualifications have to be offered but also performance and success measurements must include appropriate criteria which make the results of leadership and management behaviour transparent.

In practice, a corporate culture based on partnership is the driving force behind successful diversity management.

"What worked for us and made us successful in the past will be quite different in the future. Those organisations that really understand how to manage diversity successfully will enter this new century with a major competitive advantage. It is only in this way that every individual in the organisation is put in a position where he/she can contribute his/her full potential."

Penny de Valk, Ceridian Centrefile Ceridian House, UK

(Keynote Speaker, EfH Business Meeting "Diversity", May 19 - 20, 2003, Székesfehérvár, Hungary)

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