7.7. Maximizing Workplace Diversity

Workplace Diversity: What approaches and initiatives should talent development professionals consider to leverage diversity in the workplace? How can talent development focus on diversity issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, age, disabilities, learning preferences, interests, and culture? (AOE 7. Integrated Talent Management; 7.7. Maximizing Workplace Diversity)

AOE 7. Integrated Talent Management; 7.7. Maximizing Workplace Diversity

Diversity is more that "good for the bottom line" -- it improves our organizations functions, creativity, productivity, and awareness to new ideas and innovative approaches for how we work and learn.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Compare and contrast high-context and low-context cultures, and discuss how communication differs when dealing with each of these
  • Explain considerations regarding personal space and workplace diversity training
  • List two strategies that are used to create diverse workforce
  • Provide examples of the needs of the Baby Boomer generation versus Generation X, Y, and Z and how this may have an effect on career planning programs
  • Identify strategies that could be used to facilitate inclusion in multiracial, multigenerational environments

Cultural Awareness
: Training material sand software for global use need to be designed from the start with multilingual and multicultural participants in mind. Culture arises from shared behaviors, values, and beliefs shaped by such factors as language, religion, cuisine, music, etc. Culture influences the value society puts on individualism versus group action, tolerance for uncertainty, a willingness to take risks, and ways of interacting with a trainer and peers for professional learning, which impacts other factors such as communication and interaction for talent development. 

BOOK: Developing Localization Friendly ELearning by Kieran McBrien (2015)

Power Distance Differences
: high-power cultures emphasize more traditional teach-student relations -- here are the differences:

High Power Distance | Low Power Distance
Formal relationships | Informal relationships
High dependence | Low dependence
Teacher oriented | Learner oriented
Impersonal | Highly personal
Status emphasis | Equality emphasis
Fixed approach | Variable approach
Conformity | Experimentation

Some features of culture, such as language and dress, are immediately apparent. Other features, such as attitudes about age, personal space, work, time, and reactions to authority, may be subtle.

Gender Equality
: In the US, after the Civil Rights Active of 1964, American corporations still did not not deal with gender discrimination in the workplace -- many claims were made each year revealing that women in particular still experience discrimination in pay and advancement. This is SLOWLY being worked on to deal with gender discrimination and pay inequity issues -- but we’re still not there. The importance of gender varies by country, nationality, culture, and more. 

BONUS LISTENS: The #InVinoFab Podcast https://invinofab.transistor.fm/ these specific episodes:
Race Awareness: Implementing diversity and awareness can only help the bottom line. The CPLP guide on this is out of date -- those organizations who do not embrace or consider any diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts for any aspect of talent management will not contribute to enhance individual or organizational missions, visions, or goals. Identifying racial or ethical differences are key to understanding how individuals interact, communicate, and engage in work. That’s my “off script” insights to what I read -- bringing awareness to racial issues and viewpoints allows the organization to benefit by: 
  • Attracting and retaining the best and brightest candidates from all cultures/backgrounds
  • Increases the market share and creates a satisfied customer base with changing demographics
  • Employees learn to communicative with and truly understand one another which lets them be more innovative, responsive, and productive
  • Expansion of job candidate pools and criteria for hiring and promoting employees with fair opportunities
  • Increase employee engagement to increase employee retention
  • Diversity fosters a range of different perspectives and results in better decisions, innovative product development, better customer service, and expansion into new markets
  • An inclusive culture develops more flexible & broader-thinking leaders for a global economy
  • Overall organizational performance improves when people are encouraged to overcome cultural misunderstanding and appreciate differences
  • Employees feel more valued and tend to be more productive

Generational Differences
: There are 4-5 generations at work together, depending on where you are working in the world (see 7.3. Career Development Theories & Approaches); that being said talent development professionals want to strive to raise workplace awareness of the diversity and differences for how these different generations approach and perceive work. This can prevent conflict and encourage cooperation in an organization.

Personal Space
: This is a cultural item -- space between individuals varies depending on the cultural context. This matters for training, mentoring, coaching, and other interactions for talent management/development. Mentioned before in an earlier podcast episode, Proxemics, is the relationship of people’s positions in space. Hall (1969) defined four spatial relationships:
  1. Intimate: 18 inches; family & partners
  2. Personal: 18 inches to 4 feet; family & friends
  3. Social: 4-12 feet; co-workers & social acquaintances 
  4. Public: 12 feet+; speakers and entertainers
Disability Awareness: In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 has a number of implications for training and learning design for people who need access. The ADA prohibits discrimination in employment, public services, transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunication services. This includes aspects of employment such as job applications, selection processes, on-the-job-training, wage increases, benefits, and employer-sponsored social activities. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for professionals to access and perform the essential functions for the designated job. 

Implications for Multiple Languages:
For difference learning experiences, it might be helpful to offer training and learning materials in multiple languages depending on the workplace setting, geographic location, or needs within the professional group. These will help to add to learning and talent development:
  • Accent and linguistics 
  • Gross translation errors
  • Nuance errors 
Facilitation of Inclusion: it is important to include new cultural ideas or identities for various groups who are part of your talent management plan. In looking at your training analysis and planning processes for employee development programs, HR functions and top management may develop a strategy to interview and hire for differences to broaden diversity in the organization. Additionally, it is important to facilitate inclusion of employees by building awareness and celebrating difference cultures and groups. Differences across cultures and groups offer the opportunity to look at new approaches, create awareness, model new ways, target solutions, and offer training opportunities for other employees.

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