The Importance of Diversity

Posted in : HR Updates on 8 August 2013
Emer Hinphey
Think People Consulting
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Emer Hinphey writes:

The Pope has made the news recently. His unprecedented comments have turned our attention to the issue of Diversity. On a flight from Brazil to the Vatican, the Pope may have begun to build the foundations for a more Diverse Catholic Church, both in terms of its approach to gay clergy as well as the greater involvement of women in the Church.

Inclusion and Diversity, it seems, in our modern age, is an unstoppable force.

It’s a topic that we all tend to nod knowingly about when it’s mentioned, but much like the King’s new clothes, we suspect that many of us can’t describe ‘what it is’ to be a Diverse organisation. Are we confusing our best efforts at Equality with workplace Diversity?

Equality versus Diversity

You may belong to one of the many organisations still struggling with basic issues of equality. Do we treat people equally regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, etc? We review our organisations and put in place mechanisms around pay and performance review which minimise the potential for unequal treatment. In Northern Ireland we are concerned with meeting monitoring obligations and ensuring that there is properly balanced community representation.

Reflecting on the groups and teams within which you work, ask yourself, do many of its members have similar backgrounds, political views, likes, dislikes, cultural heritage?

Modern HR has been wonderful in helping us to understand that it is beneficial to recruit individuals who identify with the organisational culture. We now recruit those who are able to demonstrate core behaviours which are important in reinforcing organisational values and brand image. We have responded to the need for consistent methods of recruiting and training our people to ensure fairness and equality. The downside of course is that such an approach has created a certain amount of homogenization.

  • Without conscious effort, leaders often create teams which reflect themselves.

This of course hinders those ‘magical’ aspects which exist in the some of the greatest of modern organisations; creativity, risk taking and innovation.

  • Is now is the time to move your organisation a step further and look to creating greater Diverse workplace?

Achieving balanced Diversity is of course quite a significant undertaking. This is the ability to evolve to a stage where individuals are celebrated for their differences and in fact brought into organisations and teams for the differences they bring both culturally and intellectually.

Some steps which organisations have taken to begin to move towards creating Diversity in the wider sense include;

  • Leadership make a strong and visible commitment to creating greater Diversity.
  • A framework policy for Inclusion and Diversity is put in place which includes approaches to recruitment and creating ad hoc teams.
  • Communication and information sharing process reflect a healthy respect for using collaborative decision making processes.
  • Online presence and blogging reflects contributions from diverse organisational groups and collaborators.Collaboration both within the organisation, as well with external partners is highly encouraged.
  • The organisation involves itself in philanthropic or CSR activity which reaches the entire community.

Who does it well?

Now in its 14th year, The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity is the leading assessment of diversity management in corporate America and globally. Participation in the survey has reached almost 900 companies. Ranking is divided into four key areas:

1. CEO Commitment: accountability for results, personal communications, visibility
2. Diversity in Human Capital
3. Corporate and Organizational Communications: mentoring, resource groups, philanthropy, consistency/effectiveness of diversity-management initiatives
4. Supplier Diversity: as well as companies owned by LGBT people, people with disabilities, veterans

High scores in Diversity appears to correlate with growth and in many cases phenomenal success. Top performers in the Diversity survey include some of the most successful companies in the world such as Sodexo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kaiser Permanente, Ernst & Young, Mastercard and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Some will argue this week that become a more Diverse organisation will be key to the survival of the Pope’s organisation. Some will argue that it doesn’t go far enough. However, it reinforces that diversity is on the agenda and here to stay.

How many other organisations will have the courage to further embrace the value that difference can bring?

This article is correct at 04/11/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Emer Hinphey
Think People Consulting

The main content of this article was provided by Emer Hinphey. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email

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