How to Manage Diversity in the Workplace – It’s no use! People are not the same as others and several successful business practices show that having professionals with varied thinking and ideologies can become a competitive differential out of the ordinary. The challenge, then, lies in managing this diversity.
In today’s business environment, diversity is not just a daily reality for organizations: it is a fundamental business need. To compete in a highly dynamic global marketplace, companies need to attract and retain talent from a broad spectrum of countries, age groups, and cultures. In this way, the management of diversities has become a strategic imperative, whose impact goes far beyond recruiting and hiring policies.
Even so, for many companies, diversity management is seen only as the fulfillment of certain quotas for the incorporation of minorities and women. However, this approach carries a serious problem: the simple attainment of current diversity.
The diversity of diversity
The achievement of the diversity criteria used by organizations today has become so broad that it is practically unmanageable at the practical level. This is because diversity has come to include differences not only of race, gender, and creed but also of age, experience, education, roles and even personality. Many of these factors are difficult to manage.
With this, corporate diversity management must then focus on the circumstances that are manageable and can help drive unity within the organization. There are two areas that top management can turn to the motivations of people to act or their professional skills and leadership skills.
Whatever the profile or culture, the motivations that drive people to act can fall into three types: extrinsic, intrinsic, and transcendent. Extrinsic motivations are those that relate to the satisfaction of a series of tangible needs. Money is considered the predominant universal motivation. There are also some intangible needs at the individual level such as awards and recognition.
In contrast, people with intrinsic motivations willingly participate in tasks in order to learn and improve their skills and abilities. So your satisfaction comes from your own work. Finally, if a person is guided by transcendent motivations, they understand that their actions affect others and can take into account the needs of these people. For them, satisfaction comes from being useful to others.
The strength of a person’s motivation depends on the degree to which each type mentioned determines their conduct. Someone who is primarily driven by external factors is considered to have a relatively weak motivation because he will be prepared to act in exchange for a maximum and often short-term gain.
If their motivations are more intrinsic, they will no longer contribute to the organization as soon as they have met their needs or when a challenge is lower than their expectations. If their motivations are transcendent, they will only cease to act when they have overcome all their challenges or have met the needs of others inside and outside the organization.
Diversity of competences
If organizations develop a better understanding of the motivational forces that act on different professionals, they will have a greater capacity to manage the integration and development of each one. When a person’s motivations for acting are predominantly extrinsic, they will primarily need business skills, such as market knowledge or analytical skills.
Having said that, it should be remembered that focusing exclusively on these types of competence creates a mechanical management, where the only objectives are efficiency and positive feedback. When a person is driven by intrinsic motivations, he needs to complement his business skills with interpersonal talents such as communication, conflict management, charisma, and teamwork.
This management approach gives rise to a psychosocial paradigm within which the organization seeks to be effective and attractive to employees and society as a whole. Finally, people whose actions are driven by transcendent motivations require a much more personal style of leadership, as well as leaders who achieve excellence not only in terms of interpersonal and business skills but also at the intrapersonal level.
There are eight basic skills needed for this type of leadership: stress management, self-criticism, self-awareness, learning ability, decision making, self-control, emotional balance, and integrity. Companies that seek to develop this kind of talent must be managed with an anthropological paradigm, which seeks not only efficiency and attractiveness but also organizational unity.
Unity in the face of diversity
Recruiting and retaining employees with diverse profiles can be a source of competitive advantage. However, the ultimate goal of the company should not only be to increase its diversity. Instead, it must strive to achieve unity within the organization by building a high level of commitment among its employees, despite their differences.
Commitment is obtained when the motivational force is on the rise, based primarily on transcendent motivations. To make this happen, diversity management policies must conform to an anthropological paradigm that values the dignity of each person as unique, which can not be discriminated against because of external or internal differences.
To achieve this, companies must make diversity management an integral part of their mission statement, and make it compatible with the motivations of their employees.