What is Diversity?
Diversity simply means variety. A variety that is reflected in our world and in our society - in each and every one of us.
Diversity can be seen in characteristics such as gender, origin, worldview, religion, life concepts, family models, sexual orientation, education, age, physical and mental characteristics and much more.
Fostering diversity is not about highlighting differences, but about accepting that we are all individuals.
The focus of diversity initiatives is on promoting commonalities, taking into account all the different perspectives and their equality.
This diversity, which enriches our lives and makes us what we are, is unfortunately still not common standard in German companies today, although it is proven to increase employee satisfaction and bost performance. And this is something we would like to change.
We must not only learn to tolerate our differences. We must welcome them as the richness and diversity which can lead to true intelligence.
Diversity in 4 Layers
Diversity is so much more than gender and origin. The idea of multiple diversity layers was originally developed by Marilyn Loden and Judy Rosener. In 2003, the authors and trainers Lee Gardenswartz and Anita Rowe expanded the model to four diversity layers in companies.
These four layers are:
1. One's own personality
2. The internal layer
3. The external layer
4. The organizational layer
The further the layers are from the core of personality, the more easily they are changeable. In companies, the room for actions often takes place primarily in the two external layers in order to promote diversity.
The model can be used as a brainstorming session for one's own company: "Are employees in our company disadvantaged due to their functions, affiliation, departments, work attitude or marital status and parenthood?
Diversity Affects Everyone
"The promotion of diversity in the company is above all a topic for the personnel department!" - Unfortunately, this misconception is still widespread. The human resources department is still the main initiator, but there are many other places in a company for starting an initiative to promote diversity.
For every company, diversity means something different depending on the type of organisation, its activities, the situation, etc. A company from an industrial sector in the Ruhr area faces different challenges than an IT company in Berlin. However, both should record how diversity is reflected in their corporate vision and mission.
What does leadership mean to us? How can we use it to promote diversity?
How do we structure our work? Do our process standards and designs promote diversity ? Are those responsible representative of all employees?
Do we promote diversity through our selection, evaluation and development of employees ? Do we have enough and the right feedback channels for minorities in the company?
How do we shape our cooperation? Do our working hours, locations and structures hinder diversity?
Which markets and target groups do we address with the products we offer? Is every feedback taken into account?
Diversity must be exemplified and must be felt by all employees living together. What corporate values, rituals, habits and norms might stand in the way of this goal?
The fields of action should be a first point of reference for dealing with the levers for more diversity and can be used as a checklist for your own company.
Diversity Matters - Proven Facts
Use numbers to convince others of the need for action. Numerous companies and associations provide studies for this purpose. The non-profit organization Charta der Vielfalt is a good place to look for supporting figures and background information. We have compiled further informative sources for you here.
Diversity Best Practices
Diversity is already part of everyday life for some companies. Non-profit associations and organizations present initiatives of these pioneers to other interested companies. Get some inspiration and start your own initiative.
The Chefsache initiative is a network of various managers who want to support equal opportunities and change in companies. For this purpose, examples of projects and measures of various organisations can be found on their website.
The Wegweiser-Kommune is sponsored by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and prepares information for communities with more than 5,000 inhabitants on topics and projects in areas such as education, integration and demographic change.