Diversity management

As leaders, professionals, executives
and senior managers, you can do a
lot of things to enhance the productivity of your people by being a role model,
providing management training and development workshops, and by making sure
people treat each other fairly. Regardless
of your rank, position title or power,
chances are good that you cannot erase
years and centuries of mismanagement,
cultural biases and personal opinions that
exist in the society. However, what you can
do is consistently insist that your work-place is free of unfair treatment and full of
opportunity for all individuals. Therefore,
you must first understand and support the
concepts of cultural competency and
diversity management.

What are cultural competency and diversity
management?

Cultural competency is the continuous
learning process that enables one to function effectively in the context of cultural
differences. Diversity management is the
process of becoming culturally competent
by understanding the needs, wants,
desires, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs and
values of each person, while providing him
or her the opportunity to contribute to the
collective genius of the whole. Diversity
management is about creating synergistic
results that are equal to or greater than the
sum of the individual parts. Managing
diversity is about enabling each member of
the work force to perform above and
beyond his or her potential. It’s also about
making sure people are not led to believe a
lie or stereotype, so they can be free of guilt
and ‘live happily ever after.’

Diversity means ‘difference’ or ‘variety.’
So the term ‘diverse work force’ refers to a
work force where the workers have a variety of different characteristics, including,
but not limited to gender, disability, culture, ethnicity, religion, experience, body
size, skills, etc. By becoming aware of
today’s diversity and its impact on managers, one can learn effective ways of dealing with these issues appropriately. The ‘Workforce Diversity Management’ book is
not only designed to help current and
prospective managers become aware of
some of the major changes in today’s work
force, but it is also designed to give workers and managers some of the skills needed to maximize productivity and gain a
competitive advantage. By reading and
applying the concepts discussed in this
book, students, workers, managers and
business leaders will have the foundation
to see unfair habits and eliminate discriminatory practices, recognize biases and
behaviors that hinder productivity, work
with a diverse work force synergistically,
and create a work environment where all
individuals can contribute to the mission.

How does diversity relate to thoughts, feelings and behaviors?

As stated by Mahatma Gandhi,
‘Happiness is when what you think, what
you say and what you do are in harmony.’
Effective leadership and diversity management is about creating harmony in one’s
head (thoughts), heart (feelings), and
habits (behaviors) about people of diverse
backgrounds and cultures. Effective leadership is about role-modeling the type of
behavior one expects of his/her employees
and colleagues. Such leadership and management require consistency in a person’s
thinking, feelings and behaviors. It is fair to
say that diversity- and ethics-related issues
are likely to — and should — impact a person’s head, heart and habits if they are to
lead to long-term peace and prosperity in
life. Head implies continuous cognitive
learning about each situation, thinking
objectively based on current facts, awareness of universal principles and knowledge
generation. Heart implies the consistent
controlling of one’s feeling, basing it on
objective facts and aligning it with universal values. It means basing one’s feeling
onlong-term impact, rather than short-term
satisfaction of personal desires that are
linked to revenge, vengeance, payback or
retribution. Habits should be linked to
one’s objective feelings and universal principles. It means ensuring that one’s day-today behaviors are aligned with one’s universal principles of right and wrong, personal or professional values, and knowledge-based and goal-oriented feelings.

What do we need to be culturally competent?

Diversity and cultural competency
require continuously learning about one’s
own and others’ values, beliefs and cultures. Some things are learned consciously,
while others are learned by osmosis during
one’s socialization process. Some things
are learned because of what is said by others or heard from others, while other
things are learned from observation of
actions toward people or cultures even
when nothing is said. Yet, there are things a
person will never know and things that
people want to know.

DR. BAHAUDIN G. MUJTABA, is associate professor of management for Nova Southeastern University at the School of
Business and Entrepreneurship. He is a certified diversity trainer
and educator. He is the author of the recently published book entitled “Workforce Diversity Management: Challenges,
Competencies and Strategies” published by Llumina Press, 2007.
Reach him at (954) 262-5045 or [email protected].

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