Firms Unsure How to Put Diversity Into Practice

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<p><strong>Boston &mdash; Aug. 21 </strong><br />Despite senior management&rsquo;s growing acceptance of the business case for corporate diversity, one-quarter of employers remain unsure how to apply it effectively, according to a survey by Novations Group, a global consulting organization based in Boston. <br /><br />More than 2,000 senior human resource and training executives were asked to characterize their management&rsquo;s attitude toward diversity.  </p><p>Management at nearly three-quarters of employers now accepts the business case, but the study revealed pervasive uncertainty on how to leverage the benefits of diversity.<br /><br />The business case contends that diversity efforts make a definite contribution to the bottom line by improving performance and building new leadership.<br /><br />&ldquo;Even though organizations are increasingly committed to corporate diversity, what many don&rsquo;t seem to grasp is the broader need for inclusion,&rdquo; said Mike Hyter, Novations CEO and president. &ldquo;Of course, we&rsquo;re pleased to find the commitment up about 60 percent over 2005, when the survey was last conducted.  </p><p>”Nevertheless, many employers who believe in diversity admit they&rsquo;re not sure how to implement it, make it work on the ground or maximize the benefits in business terms. Moreover, some even continue to have reservations about the core concept.&rdquo;<br /><br />Respondents were asked, “With respect to organization diversity and inclusion, which of the following best describes the attitude of your senior management?”</p><p>The results are as follows:</p><ul><li>Senior management accepts the business case for diversity and does what is necessary to leverage inclusion with the organization: <strong>48 percent</strong></li><li>Senior management accepts the business case for diversity but does not know how to leverage it: <strong>24</strong> <strong>percent</strong></li><li>Senior management is not convinced of the business case for diversity but, nevertheless, supports inclusion efforts: <strong>9 percent</strong></li><li>Senior management gives lip service to diversity but lets HR pursue its inclusion efforts: <strong>14 percent</strong></li><li>Senior management does not accept the business case for diversity and gives inclusion efforts little or no support: <strong>5 percent</strong>       </li><li>Senior management openly opposes diversity and inclusion efforts: <strong>0 percent</strong></li></ul><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not surprising, but still disappointing, to learn that senior management often appears to shrug its shoulders about diversity and leave the challenge for HR to solve,&rdquo; said Hyter, author of &ldquo;The Power of Inclusion.”  &ldquo;Genuine inclusion has to become central to an organization&rsquo;s talent development effort and that will help shape management practices, corporate culture and a range of internal processes. </p><p>”On the other hand, inclusion is tough to make real when an organization&rsquo;s top people are confused or lukewarm.  Any program is bound to be less effective if management isn&rsquo;t fully committed.&rdquo;<br /><br />The business case for diversity is sometimes overstated, Hyter said.  </p><p>&ldquo;Diversity is not a silver bullet or a guarantee of profitability when so many factors play a role in the success of the business,” he said. “The true measure of a diversity program is inclusion, as well as the ability to manage diverse teams, and this is crucial today when every employer sees its workforce steadily reshaped and more diverse.&rdquo;<br /><br />The Novations Group Internet survey of 2,046 senior human resources and training and development executives was conducted by Equation Research.</p>

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