Diversity: Who’s responsibility is it?

IMD, the #1 Executive Education School in the world (Financial Times rankings 2014) located in Switzerland, shared what could be considered a controversial article on diversity – “It’s about more than the business case”.

In a nutshell the article said that companies and leaders should stop focusing on the business case for diversity and rather start thinking of it as a moral, ethical and demographic opportunity.  The argument being that if it’s reduced to just a business case it could be dismissed for having no justifiable return and hence not being resourced or actioned.

So is it the company’s moral or ethical obligation to action diversity regardless of the financials of such an initiative? Or is it politicians’ responsibility by legislating diversity at least at the board level for public companies? Or is it the employees’ or consumers’ responsibility to demand it?

The article from IMD advocates that the push for diversity will come from a variety of sources over time as we’ve already started to see. Companies need to start managing the diversity they have now more effectively to reap the rewards now and be prepared for more diversity in the future. This can be taught through an array of different group coaching methods which will undoubtedly determine the success of any diversity management.

The benefits of diversity are best realized when they are managed well, which is true for essentially all employee productivity and engagement. Creating a culture where people can speak up and not fear negative repercussions, ideas and people are respected, it’s acceptable to challenge the status quo, people are encouraged and supported to reach their full potential. It’s also important for the leaders to be self-aware – what are their preconceived tendencies? What are their biases in hiring, promoting, listening? What can they do to support others to be the best they can be?

The question seems to be not whether diversity “should be implemented” but rather how to foster it now and into the future for business and social benefit.

What would you need support with or executive coaching  to improve your company’s management of diversity?