June 16, 2013
D. Kandy SimmonSimmons
Assessing your Organization's Value
Diversity is not a liberal ideological movement, to be supported or resisted. Rather, it is a reality in today’s business environment. Managed well, diversity provides benefits that increase success. However, when ignored or mismanaged, it brings challenges and obstacles that can hinder the organization’s ability to succeed. The right question then is not, do we have to deal with diversity, but rather, how do we manage it to reap its potential benefits? At its core, diversity is about inclusion and exclusion. The foundation for effectively leveraging diversity lies in defining it in a broad and inclusive way. Organizations that define it broadly, involving all dimen- sions of similarity and difference around which there are inclusions and exclusions that affect the business, find that there is greater buy-in and strategic relevance. There is also a stronger business case and less resistance when all in the organization can see themselves reflected in the defini- tion and can identify inclusions and exclu- sions that play out in the organization every day through us-versus-them attitudes, stereotypes, assumptions, preconceived expectations, and differences in treatment.
Our model, the Four Layers of Diversity (Figure 4.1), is used in many organizations across the country to frame the issue and encourage discussion and involvement in managing diversity. The multiple dimen- sions of diversity around which there is inclusion and exclusion are depicted in four concentric circles. Personality, relat- ing to individual style and characteristics, is in the center. Whether a…