Are you #1? Diversity Best Practices for School and Work

Are you #1 in your field? Rice University was recently ranked number one for happiest students and lots of race/class interaction in the Princeton Review’s 2017 edition of “The Best 381 Colleges.” In today’s increasingly diverse and interconnected society, that’s an impressive accomplishment. How would your organization rate in terms of diversity, cultural fluency, and customer and employee satisfaction? If you’re not sure you’re at the top, then it may be time to go back to school.

Is diversity reflected in your:

  •  business plan: do you have a global strategy–what’s the vision? What are your goals, and how do you reach them?
  •  management: do you walk the talk of diversity and inclusiveness–does you leadership team reflect that you offer opportunities for all regardless of gender, race, culture…?
  •  communication: do you communicate competently across cultures, exchange ideas, solicit input? Are you observing, listening to, and learning from your multicultural stakeholders?
  •  community engagement: does your organization donate resources –time, staff and leaders– to support diverse causes?
  •  education & training: does your team have the tools, skills, and capabilities to execute your global vision? Do you prepare staff for today’s global environment — for working with multicultural teams, suppliers, and stakeholders? Do you provide additional training for employees representing your organization on international business trips and working overseas, to minimize culture shock and improve their chance for success? Do you provide cross-cultural communication, negotiation, language training, or diversity workshops?
  •  workplace environment: do you foster an environment of inclusion at meetings and events?
  •  benefits & rewards: do you reward staff for their global awareness, engagement, and experience that benefit the organization? Do you allow time off to support global charitable or community initiatives? Do you pay staff’ dues for membership in bilateral chambers of commerce and cultural organizations that align with your organizational objectives? Are rewards for employees varied, taking cultural considerations into account (maybe not everyone wants a plaque and to be employee of the month)?
  •  marketing: do your efforts reflect the diversity of your clients and stakeholders? Coca-Cola is a master. They even tweak the formula of their product to reflect taste preferences in their respective global markets.
  •  employee engagement: do you assign multicultural teams in and out of the office? Do your team-building or celebratory activities reflect the cultures and preferences of your staff, suppliers, and stakeholders? For example, do you organize soccer or ping pong tournaments, in addition to softball, golf, or other activities?
  •  accountability: are staff and leadership held accountable for knowing the global vision and executing it? Are they evaluated on their efforts to build and support diversity in your organization?

As students around the country go back to school, it may be time for your organization to do the same, and look for ways to be #1 in reaping the benefits of diversity and global engagement. Here’s one way Rice reaches out, Rice Owls Teach International Students about American Football. What has your organization done to promote diversity and inclusion? Share your success stories here.

Protocol Pointer

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Learn from best practices across industry sectors. These can be modified as needed and applied to your situation. One of my preferred resources for learning about global strategy development and managing diversity is Managing Cultural Differences, by Robert T. Moran:

It’s never too late to go back to school! I believe in life-long learning. And like the Romans, who took some of the best ideas from the Greeks, I believe in learning from the best. Let’s use this back-to-school season to learn from each other and take a fresh look at how our work relates to the diverse and changing society we inhabit.

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