Diversity and leadership

The Three Cs of Managing Diversity: Composition-Core-Climate Managing organizational diversity starts with developing an organization’s strategic planning to be inclusive of diversity and directed toward organizational and systemic change. It presumes a commitment to goals of diversity leadership.

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It makes the business case for training to move leaders and members toward a goal where diversity means good business; it brings in customers, expands the customer base, promotes a climate where all voices are included, and strives toward a workforce composition that is diverse and delivers its products or services in a culturally competent manner. The senior author has defined this to mean addressing the Three Cs of Diversity: recruiting and retaining a diverse Composition of the workforce and clientele, developing the Core of business products and services to be delivered in a culturally competent manner, and promoting a welcoming and inclusive workplace Climate within the organization. Moodian (2009) views contemporary leadership and leadership success as attainable through intercultural competence and stresses the importance of moving away from ethnocentric leadership philosophies given the growing dominance of diverse workforces and greater racial/ethnic heterogeneity of populations in countries throughout the world today. He suggests a strategic planning process or business plan that is inclusive of diversity and offers seven steps toward managing diversity for organizational change. “The business case is about capturing talent, understanding markets, utilizing diverse perspectives for innovation, knowing how and how not to pitch products, and ultimately, how to generate employee commitment” (Moodian, 2009, p. 39). The seven steps include the following: Generating Executive Commitment—Nothing happens in an organization without buy-in from the top. Diversity needs to be a goal embraced by leaders within an organization and starts with a visioning process. Assessment—This process helps the organization understand its current state regarding diversity. This essentially means doing a SWOT analysis of the Three Cs; this might include assessing composition of the workforce and its clientele, assessing policies and procedures that might pose internal barriers for hiring and promotion, assessing climate of the organization for inclusion and respect for all dimensions of diversity, and marketing strategies and business goals that are inclusive of diversity. This helps identify needs, set priorities, and to define goals and objectives for a strategic plan that is inclusive of diversity and provides data to serve as benchmarks. Diversity Council—The establishment of such councils provides a formal mechanism within the organization that serves the purpose of getting feedback to and from employees and explaining diversity and any initiatives that are created to employees. Systems Change—The executive leadership needs to align organizational systems and operational practices with diversity goals. These include pay equity reviews, revamping promotional processes to ensure fairness and equal access, setting performance objectives for hiring, establishing affinity groups or mentoring for employees, or establishing performance objectives for managers and employees in their performance reviews. Training—This should NOT be designed to change an organization. Training is effectively and appropriately used to create awareness and help people develop knowledge and skills, which could result in behavior change. Training is too often used as an isolated tool to promote organizational change with limited or even negative results. At best, using training in this way is like using a screwdriver to drive a nail. Measurement and Evaluation—“What gets measured gets done” is a common phrase supporting the importance of measuring the effects of change processes and evaluating the results of targets and goals that are; this includes both process and outcomes of the strategic plan. Integration—Creating a feedback mechanism for continuous improvement is always important to ensure that short-term changes have long-term impact.

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A strategic planning process is different from diversity training as a tool for organizational change. It is when an organization or its leaders attempt to envision the future, conduct a SWOT analysis, and develop a plan for organizational success and direction that it can have lasting impact on promoting a diverse and global workplace culture. Organizational change will flow from its policies, procedures, and strategies. Evaluation of Outcomes Managing diversity as part of organizational change is best done when systems audit for organizational diversity are in place to measure outcomes. This includes measures for the Composition of the workforce, Core products of the business, and Climate of the organization. A systems audit for organizations on its level of diversity might include whether or not the organization does the following: Promote access for all populations Is relevant for today’s leadership contexts Empowers the clients and workforce Is applicable to solving contemporary problems Establishes diverse work group teams Addresses the dynamics of organizational composition based on heterogeneity of its workforce and organizational culture A set of criteria to evaluate the inputs (plan and commitment) and outputs (activities, services, and products) with feedback mechanisms to answer the core question of: How do you know when the organization is doing well? What data are available to indicate how to stop, adjust, or improve less effective actions? On screening and appraisal of leaders, what are the criteria for identifying potential leaders? Do they unintentionally exclude some groups based on their social identities that are immaterial to their effectiveness as leaders? Do criteria for performance appraisals lead to bias because of unconscious beliefs and values about leader behaviors? How is it objectively measured? Measuring Organizational Cultural Competence Measuring organizational cultural competence has proven to be very challenging. As discussed in Chapter 2 and 8, cultural competence is represented by the acceptance and respect for differences, continuing self-assessment regarding culture, careful attention to the dynamics of differences, continuous expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, and a variety of adaptations to belief systems, policies, and practices. However, organizational cultural competence needs to be evaluated at the same level as other organizational indicators such as measuring profitability, market share, and customer satisfaction. Cross, Bazron, Dennis, and Isaacs (1989) first coined the term cultural competence as part of six developmental levels along a continuum from cultural destructiveness to cultural proficiency to describe where a mental health service delivery system might be situated in its responsiveness to the culture of its patients. Over the years, cultural competence developed its own language, values, principles, norms, and expected behaviors; by its own definition, it became a culture and a movement. While cultural competence has been used extensively in health and mental health systems of care, it has only recently come into the leadership literature as a way to promote diversity within corporations and organizations. Although it has become well accepted that focusing on the cultural identities of patients and staff is essential to deliver quality culturally competent care for all patients, the cultural competence movement was challenged from the beginning to develop definitions and standards for organizations that could be more specific than “I know it when I see it.” The development of the measurement of organizational cultural competence saw three milestones: Cross’s Cultural Competency Continuum—is a framework of the developmental process of cultural competence (Cross et al., 1989) that was a major contribution to understanding how cultural competence could develop within an organization or in individuals. The six stages are identified on Table 9.1. However, by defining these developmental stages based on values, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, the continuum is more a description of “cultural good” than a standard for measurement. This continuum contains a cultural bias with categories such as “destructiveness” or “blindness” that tend to demonize the early stages of the development of cultural competence. Consequently, it cannot provide the basis against which the cultural competence of disparate organizations can be measured. Since the early stage categories, as defined by Cross, can also exist in a culturally competent organization, a problem arises when one culture is measured with another. Values, beliefs, and feelings of the continuum are also the primary elements of culture. As Albert Einstein (n.d.) demonstrated, “problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”

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