Is your organization one that embraces people from all backgrounds and realizes that you have much to gain by doing so?
“A diverse workplace or institution is one where diversity is not only recognized but embraced regardless of ethnicity, creed, color, age, disability, sexual preference, etc. with respect and dignity, through a lens that is open to everyone,” says Dorothy Davis, director of transfer recruitment and co-chair of the diversity committee at Fontbonne University. Davis explains that “strive” is a key word when working toward diversity.
“Diversity will never be a completed process,” she says. “There is no period at the end of the sentence. You’re always building. It’s a spiral process that keeps turning and turning.”
Davis emphasizes that diversity is truly all about inclusion not exclusion. Organizations that are willing to look to and learn from others will have a competitive advantage in the years to come.
Smart Business asked Davis how companies and institutions can create environments where the differences in others are appreciated.
Why is diversity in the workplace so important in today’s business world?
Diversity lends a sense of uniqueness to a company or an institution. We can think of diversity as being a woven quilt a beautiful work of art. Patches and stitches that represent differences in one another, such as color, ethnicity, religion, age and other important factors. Diversity in the workplace provides a distinct advantage in an era when we need flexibility and creativity in order to have a competitive advantage.
What should all CEOs keep in mind as they strive toward diversity?
Striving for diversity is an evolution we must always remember that our society is diverse. Diversity in the work place is eminent companies and institutions should focus on making diversity a top priority. Striving for diversity is about change, growth and understanding the world around us. Our environment is competitive whether we’re hiring employees or recruiting students.
What are some things top management can do to ensure a diverse work population?
The commitment starts at the top by developing a diversity action plan a company-wide initiative. It should be a plan that is developed in collaboration with human resources (HR), but not separate from HR’s primary responsibilities, which often lie in hiring practices, compliance regulations, etc. Diversity in the work place focuses on maximizing the ability of all employees so that they can contribute to the organizational goals and objectives. The bottom-line of having diversity in the work place is the bottom-line.
How does diversity on campus benefit students and their future employers as they enter the work force?
Diversity on campus benefits students in so many ways. It’s important that students recognize and appreciate the contributions that other groups have made in our society.
Does diversity matter? Yes! It is the responsibility of a university to exhibit leadership by providing an environment that is inclusive for all. Universities must take the initiative to incorporate diversity throughout their curriculums by expanding campus-wide activities that offer inclusion, engagement and participation. Institutions need to create a learning environment that fosters intellectual and social growth among all students. Diversity broadens the educational experiences of all students so that they are prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of a global society. A university should be where students go to prepare to become leaders of tomorrow.
Looking forward, what challenges will tomorrow’s work force bring?
I wouldn’t say challenges, but opportunities opportunities that are exciting! We have baby boomers changing careers; a very vibrant population that has a great deal of offer. There are new immigrants that will help shape our society by offering us new cultural perspectives. We must realize that diversity is threaded through every aspect of our lives. We must be willing to challenge and change the practices that present the barriers that individuals and groups experience.
Companies and institutions must be willing to provide resources to train new and current employees. Our society is global our neighbor next door no longer looks exactly like us. Remember that diversity is a beautiful work of art a woven quilt with unique patches and colorful threads, and one that’s stitched together to make one large masterpiece.
DOROTHY DAVIS is director of transfer recruitment and co-chair of the diversity committee at Fontbonne University. Reach her at (314) 889-1475 or email@example.com.