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Diversity climate is usually defined as the attitudes adopted by the members of an organization and their perceptions of people from different cultural groups other than their own. The role of diversity in improving organizations’ performance has been widely documented. This paper proposes a model to analyze the diversity in organizations. Steps, methods, and procedures are discussed. The paper proposes some ways to transform assessment results into diversity training. The importance of needs assessments is evaluated.
Diversity in Organizations
The growing diversity of workforce is one of the determining trends affecting present-day labor markets. Changing demographics, migration, and globalization are just some of the major challenges faced by contemporary organizations. Workforce diversity has far-reaching implications for the quality and efficiency of organizations in the United States and beyond (Wetling, 2000). Simultaneously, the need to remain competitive in the long run mandates the development of diversity policies and initiatives within organizations. Diversity training is an essential element of organizations’ movement toward employee diversity. It is an umbrella term used to denote the broad range of programs designed to teach employees the value of diversity and direct them in behaviors that exhibit receptiveness and openness to diversity (Kulik, Pepper, Roberson & Parker, 2007). However, effective diversity training is impossible without a detailed analysis and assessment of diversity within organizations. This being said, organizations should develop and implement complex models to analyze and manage diversity.
Analyzing Diversity: A Conceptual Model
The management of diversity has been one of the cornerstones in the evolution of organizational theory and science in the U.S. The differences in demographic composition, increased immigration, and growing racial diversity warrant the development of numerous diversity initiatives (Dick, 2003). Basically, “the management of diversity […] is concerned with embracing and enhancing all the differences between employees, not just differences in gender and race” (Dick, 2003, p.132). Unfortunately, as organizations are becoming more diverse, the role and importance of diversity analysis remains persistently overlooked. On the one hand, organizations fail to acknowledge the importance of diversity analysis/ audit and the role which diversity assessments can play in the development of various training and policy frameworks. On the other hand, many organizations simply lack appropriate models of diversity audit. However, diversity training is impossible without a detailed analysis of diversity that reflects the systemic character of instructional modeling in diversity training design.
The proposed model of diversity analysis incorporates the principles, methods, and procedures of the Diversity Competency Model described by Frusti, Niesen and Campion (2003) and the Culture Audit model proposed by Testa and Sipe (2011). The model includes five basic steps/ stages and incorporates the benefits of both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. The latter are justified by the need to pursue greater objectivity and validity of the assessment result. The five steps of the proposed model include: (1) identifying the organization’s mission, vision, and values; (2) developing the organization’s culture narrative; (3) selecting the audit team; (4) collecting the data; and (5) interpreting and reporting audit results (Testa & Sipe, 2011).
The process of analyzing diversity within the organization should begin by identifying its mission, vision, and values. These are the main sources of strategic cultural information about the organization, which also set the stage for the company’s movement towards or from diversity (Testa & Sipe, 2011). The organization’s mission, vision, and values do not simply redirect organizations in their movement to the desired strategic goal but also expose any inconsistencies at the strategic level of performance. The vision and mission define what exactly the organization wants to achieve, whereas values define the ways in which the organization is meeting these goals. A brief analysis of the mission, vision, and values lays the groundwork for the development of the organization’s culture narrative.
Organizations can analyze their diversity by developing culture narratives (Testa & Sipe, 2011). The goal of the culture analysis is to identify and address any disparities between the existing and desired culture, and organizations must have a clear vision of what exactly they want at the end and what is still missing. The creation of a culture narrative does not require sophisticated data collection methods and procedures. The best diversity auditors can do is to ask managers to answer several important questions. These may include: (a) how should employees perceive the organization?; (b) how should customers and suppliers view the organization?; (c) how should employees treat diversity within the organization?; (d) what stories should reaffirm and support organization’s climate?; etc. The nature of the culture narrative is predominantly qualitative, and its main goal is to see the organization’s ideal of diversity. This narrative should be long enough to incorporate the most important information and brief enough to make it easy-to-read and comprehensible for stakeholders (Testa & Sipe, 2011).
Once the culture narrative is created, organizations need to create an audit team (Testa & Sipe, 2011). Testa and Sipe (2011) recommend creating a team of managers and/ or executives from the most important areas of the organization. These may include but are not limited to HR, operations and accounting, marketing and sales. The goal of the culture audit team is to identify the existing inconsistencies in the diversity policies and initiatives within the organization by analyzing objective indicators and reinterpreting the meaning behind the practices, policies, and cultural artifacts (Testa & Sipe, 2011). The presence of executives and leaders from all major areas of the organization will further facilitate the process of collecting and analyzing primary and secondary information relating to diversity.
The most important is the process of collecting data. For the purpose of diversity analysis, the data collection process should incorporate both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Quantitative data should come from organizational documents and create a statistical/ numerical picture of diversity through diversity initiative statistics, customer satisfaction, and diverse employee recruitment/ retention results, etc. (Frusti et al., 2003). Qualitative information should be derived from interviews with executive leaders and employees (Frusti et al., 2003). To speed up the process of data collection, organizations can organize focus groups by employee status or department and invite employees to share their experiences of diversity or being different within the organization (Frusti et al., 2003). The exact format of focus group discussions will depend upon the nature of the organization, the number of employees, the complexity of the organizational structure, etc. In case of very large organizations, qualitative methods of data collection can give place to quantitative surveys and questionnaires.
The final stage of diversity analysis is interpreting and reporting the audit results. This is actually one of the most challenging aspects of diversity analysis due to the risks of misinterpretation and bias (Testa & Sipe, 2011). Moreover, not results but the way they are interpreted and used in will further predetermine the success of diversity analysis in organizations. These results should shape the ground for the development of diversity training initiatives, and the main question is whether or not diversity analysis can suffice to result in effective diversity training.
Diversity Training: Diversity Analysis Is Not Enough
Diversity analysis is a useful component of organizations’ movement towards ideal performance. Because diversity training is a vehicle of culture transformations within organizations, diversity audits are also assumed to provide relevant information about the state of diversity and uncover the main sources of controversy and bias (Roberson, Kulik & Pepper, 2003). Diversity analysis has the potential to identify the ways to improve the state and meet the needs of a diverse workforce, but this information provides little guidance for the diversity training design (Roberson et al., 2003). Te fact that diversity within organizations does not fit the desired ideal does not necessarily imply the need to develop diversity training programs. For example, diversity inconsistencies in organizations may stem from the lack of diverse multicultural employees or the absence of a broad diversity policy. Only needs assessments can transform the results of diversity audits into a useful instrument of diversity training. Only needs assessments can answer the questions concerning training design and transform the results of diversity audits into practical training solutions.
Diversity climate in organizations is usually defined by individuals’ attitudes and perceptions toward people from the cultural groups other than their own. Organizations should regularly analyze the state of diversity and the effectiveness of their diversity initiatives. The proposed model of diversity analysis can help organizations to uncover the main diversity inconsistencies and bias but can hardly serve as the foundation for the development of diversity training frameworks. To translate the results of diversity analysis into practice, organizations should perform regular needs assessments that can answer the main questions regarding training design and should ensure the efficacy of diversity training interventions in short- and long-term perspectives.