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Diversity Plans

30 October, 2015 - 16:27

Learning Objectives

  1. Be able to apply strategies to create a multicultural work environment and diversity plans.
  2. Be able to create an HR plan with diversity considerations.

While state and federal laws must be followed to ensure multiculturalism, the culture of the company and the way the organization operates can contribute to the nurturing of a multicultural environment (or not). Most companies have a formalized and written antidiscrimination and harassment policy. For example, Zappos’s policy states, “The diversity of Zappos’ employees is a tremendous asset. We are firmly committed to providing equal opportunity in all aspects of employment and will not tolerate any illegal discrimination or harassment. Examples of such behavior include derogatory comments based on racial or ethnic characteristics and unwelcome sexual advances. Please refer to the applicable sections of the Employee Handbook for further guidance.” 1

Implementing a policy is an excellent first step, but what is important is how the company acts on those formalized processes and written policies. Let’s say, for example, an organization has a published policy on inclusion of those with physical disabilities, but much “schmoozing” and relationship development with managers takes place on the golf course on Friday afternoons. While the policy states the company doesn’t discriminate, their actions and “traditions” show otherwise and do discriminate against those with disabilities. If this is where the informal work and relationship building take place, an entire group could be left out of this process, likely resulting in lower pay and promotion rates. Likewise, organizations that have a “beer Friday” environment may discriminate against those whose religions do not condone drinking alcohol. While none of these situations are examples of blatant discrimination, a company’s culture can contribute to an environment that is exclusive rather than inclusive.

Many organizations have developed diversity management plans that are tied to the written diversity policy of the organization. In fact, in many larger organizations, such as Hilton, manager- or director-level positions have been created to specifically manage diversity plans and programs. Josh Greenberg, a researcher in the area of workplace diversity, contends that organizations with specific diversity plans tend to be able to facilitate changes more quickly than companies without diversity plans. 2 He says there are three main steps to creating diversity plans:

  1. Assessment of diversity. Employee satisfaction surveys, discussions, and open forums that can provide insight into the challenges and obstacles to diversity. Inclusion of all workers for input is necessary to create a useful plan.
  2. Development of the diversity plan. Based on step 1, a series of attainable and measurable goals should be developed regarding workplace diversity.
  3. Implementation of the plan. The commitment of executives and management is necessary. Formulating action plans based on the goals developed in step 2 and assignment of implementation and measurement of those plans must follow. The action plan should be the responsibility of the entire organization, not just the director of diversity or human resources.

In "Recruitment and Selection", we discuss some of the HR plan considerations in company culture and “our way of doing things” that are worth considering when creating a diversity plan.