Diverse Ethics

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Sunday, 3rd December 2023


A recent survey by Adecco has shown that nearly half of all employees are suspicious about a firm's diversity programmes and strategies. They think these events are more cosmetic than real, and suggest that employers are not committed to this agenda. In the same survey, nearly 70% of employers stated that they are committed to diversity and really believe strongly that it is an asset - a clear contradiction. This evidence suggests that there is a difference between thought and action - this is often the case in our own research and consultancy in this area. There are cases where management believe that policy statements about equality are enough to show organisational commitment to it. There is a real vacuum of good leadership in this whole area. The survey also shows that there is a lot of 'spin' around diversity - employers want to give the image that they are open and welcoming when in reality, they are closed-minded and exclusive. There is also a problem about attitude among managers and bosses - many see diversity training as a burden and a waste of time, even though they may not admit it. Research shows that they are often totally unaware of their subconscious biases and the impact of these on their actions.

The reality about diversity is that to embed it within any organisation requires leadership and commitment, and a culture which is open-minded and welcoming rather than one which is based on command-and-control. Also good equality practice requires serious resources and a long-term commitment, and a corporate culture which is not just in policy statements, but really practiced. In fact, ideally diversity should be practiced before it is preached. So for example, if the leaders are diverse, this would automatically send a signal to the rest of the organisation that it is inclusive and meritocratic.

Organisations do invest significant sums in training and development of staff, especially those which are service oriented. Out of this budget, a significant amount should be invested in the area of diversity and inclusion. Culture change should be a priority rather than something to be avoided or approached with a short-term mechanistic mindset. The benefits of an inclusive culture will show in corporate performance, employee morale and creativity and innovation.

Article added on 2nd February 2012 at 2:41pm