The Top Issues Regarding Diversity in Organizations

Question: What would you say are the top five or six main issues with regard to diversity in organizations?

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
What would you say are the top five or six main issues with regard to diversity in organizations?

1. A lack of understanding by (usually majority) corporate leadership that perception is different by race, culture, gender, orientation, age, disability and other factors that make us human beings. Ability to manage these differences is the basis of diversity management.

2. Ignorance of “The Business Case for Diversity.” White people will be the minority in this country by 2050; 75 percent of the world isn’t white. The growth market for almost all businesses depends on a company being able to forge relationships with all kinds of people (see point 1 above).

3. Lack of measurement. The work force is a company’s best measurement of ability to build equal relationships. If there is bias in the results (less than statistically balanced representation at all levels), then there is bias. Managing bias out of an organization pays dividends in higher quality relationships with customers, investors and suppliers.

4. Lack of leadership commitment. An uninvolved CEO is not doing well by shareholders, employees or customers. Poor diversity management exposes a company to potential liabilities (lawsuits).

5. Lack of bidirectional communications. It is logical that top management is going to be more white than the rest of the organization (there are more white people proportionally than people of color the older a person is in America). Therefore, strong diversity management includes employee-resource groups, diversity councils, surveys, etc.

6. Lack of nurturing. Nurturing is not nannying. It is a process by which a company communicates by word and deed that they will care for their people without bias. This includes, but is not limited to, supplier diversity and work/life programs.

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