Today marks the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We recognize the ever-changing demographics in our country, schools and work areas. These changes have influenced the way we relate to one another and how we do business. Based on the recent tragedy in Tucson and divisive political rhetoric, King’s dream of “one day [living] in a nation where [everyone] will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” has not been realized. Managing diversity remains a business imperative.
An organization’s success in managing and promoting diversity rests heavily on how well it harnesses the array of skills and experiences of its employees while they remain a part of its workforce. How good is it at fostering teamwork? Does it bring together people of diverse backgrounds and styles in order to enhance creativity, solve problems more effectively, and discover new approaches to old issues? The organizations must do all these things if it wants to achieve its goals and hold on to its best and brightest workers.
Many researchers and industry experts believe that the organizations that excel at managing diversity have six characteristics in common – six competencies form the foundation of a successful team of people who take pride in together achieving greater levels of success.
These six competencies are:
1. Awareness. Organizations and their employees develop and awareness of the benefits that can flow from cultural diversity, and establish and maintain a climate of mutual trust.
(Watch this video! Diversity – Wake Up Everybody - Contact us for permission to use at your next workshop or training.)
2. Inclusion. Minority groups feel a part of and are included in the major decision-making processes of the organization. Their views and ideas are genuinely valued and seen to be important.
3. Tolerance and Understanding. Different beliefs, stated views, actions, and reactions are fully understood and are naturally tolerated and accepted as part of the rich overall “tapestry” of human behavior.
4. Empathy. Warmth, sincerity, and goodwill are extended to every individual and group without applying stereotypes, so that each person feels high levels of mutual empathy.
5. Adaptation and Change. Groups and the organization as a whole permanently adapt and change when bias or prejudice toward people who are different from the majority begin to hold back the organization or the work of individual employees.
6. Persistence and Commitment. Individuals and the organization as a whole persist in their efforts in their efforts to recognize diversity and cultural awareness shortfalls; commit to increasing overall knowledge; and seek to reap the long-term benefits from people’s differences, rather than insist on similarity.
(Source: Diversity and Cultural Awareness Profile, Jon Warner)
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