Diversity Management: Deep Level Diversity
By Amelia Young | March 25, 2020
Business leaders that embrace a culture of diversity intentionally work to integrate diversity into every aspect of the organization so that inclusion becomes a natural result of the organizational culture. These leaders recognize that “diversity can be a positive force, spurring creativity, dynamism and excellence, renewing and refreshing the corporation, and ultimately improving the bottom line” (Aronson, 2002, p. 50).
Culture & Diversity
The concepts of culture and diversity are related but distinct. Culture describes people at a societal level, and diversity describes people at an individual level. Geert Hofstede (1984), a well known social psychologist and pioneer in the field of cross-cultural groups and businesses, defined “culture as the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or society from those of another” (p. 82). Culture is the societal influence of our early lives, and these experiences helped shape our view of the world and impact our beliefs, attitudes, values, and norms. Diversity refers to “the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs” (Ferris State University, n.d., p. 1).
Surface and Deep Level Diversity
When talking about diversity, it is essential to understand the differences between surface-level and deep-level diversity. Surface-level diversity is what most people think about when they hear the term diversity. Surface-level diversity is the genetic or visible physical characteristics of a person, such as, among other observable characteristics, gender, age, or skin color. These physical characteristics have little to do with how a person thinks, although it may influence how a person behaves depending on their specific experiences (discrimination) (Moran, Abramson, Moran, 2014). Deep-level diversity is about the non-observable traits that can be concealed or revealed at a person’s discretion, such as beliefs, attitudes, norms, and values, like religious beliefs (Taniguchi, n.d.).
In today’s global business environment, all business leaders should think from the perspective of global leadership. Global leadership refers to “an extraordinary capacity to unify a global workforce around a single purposeful vision, through demonstration of personal mastery, thinking globally, anticipating opportunity and using shared leadership networks” (Greenberg, as cited in Pennsylvania State University, 2020, p. 5). The most effective business leaders recognize that thinking globally and unifying their diverse workforce will provide them a competitive advantage (Moran et al., 2014).
Business leaders should approach diversity management from the perspective of overall organizational improvements as well as improvements in team performance. Many researchers agree that when organizations look to embrace diversity and enhance business performance, they must reform their entire organization. Leaders can develop a competitive advantage when they consistently integrate deep-level diversity externally, by actively promoting diversity, and through their internal systems and processes (Taniguchi, n.d.).
Business leaders who intentionally cultivate an organizational environment of deep-level diversity by establishing peripheral systems and policies are better able to foster a climate of inclusivity. These leaders recognize the value of creating diverse problem-solving and decision-making teams. They understand that bringing people together who possess varying beliefs, values, and attitudes will expose all members to unique viewpoints, ideas, expertise, and experiences. Diverse teams will develop more creative solutions and be more productive than homogeneous teams (Moran et al., 2014; Pennsylvania State University, 2020).
Organizations that value diversity walk the talk. Leaders achieve greater diversity in the workplace by designating diversity and inclusion as a top priority in recruitment. However, they understand that recruitment is a starting point, merely the tip of the iceberg. “Diversity is about globalization, organizational learning, and the growing importance of knowledge management, just as much as it is about recruitment, equal opportunity, workforce demographics, and social integration” (Moran et al., 2014, p. 178). Leaders must ensure that they integrate deep-level diversity into every aspect of the organization so that inclusion is a natural result of the organization’s culture (Aronson, 2002; Hofstede, 1984).
Tips for Managing Diversity
Avoid stereotypes: Stereotypes consider only a central tendency of a society’s culture. However, it is crucial to recognize that individuals are unique, and differences do exist (Moran et al., 2014).
Design processes to minimize biases: Decisions about hiring and promotions should be based only on an individual’s qualifications and nothing else. Develop policies, processes, and practices that minimize the risk of personal bias in decision-making (Ortiz, 2018).
Facilitate open communication: Communicate policies, procedures, and practices to ensure everyone is on the same page. Cultural and language barriers should be removed or minimized by developing communication materials that meet the needs of the entire workforce (Ortiz, 2018).
Create inclusive policies: Ensure all workplace policies, practices, and procedures are inclusive to everyone and that no group receives unfair treatment or are left out. Design policies and practices to encourage and make it easy for employees to provide feedback and then make sure leaders listen (Ortiz, 2018).
Encourage workforce interaction: Interaction within the workforce will help individuals get to know one another, and will help people learn to respect and appreciate their differences. Intentionally choose team members who are deeply diverse to encourage collaboration and strengthen member’s appreciation and respect for each other (Ortiz, 2018). Provide employees with ample opportunities to collaborate and engage with one another as this will help expand the views and experiences of the workforce and help “produce a more profound understanding and greater satisfaction among members” (Moran et al., 2014, p. 177).
Diversity management requires a commitment from organizations leaders to develop a corporate culture of diversity and inclusivity. In today’s global economy, business leaders that embrace and integrate deep-level diversity in all of their policies, processes, and practices will gain a competitive advantage. This advantage will come from the ability to achieve greater creativity and innovation in problem-solving and decision making and through and will be better able to attract and retain high-quality talent (Aronson, 2002; Hofstede, 1984; Moran et al., 2014; Ortiz 2018; Pennsylvania State University, 2020; Taniguchi, n.d.).
Aronson, D. (2002). Managing the diversity revolution: Best practices for 21st century business. Civil Rights Journal, 6(1), 46-71. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/215215444?accountid=13158&pq-origsite=summon
Ferris State University. (n.d.). Diversity and inclusion definitions. Retrieved from https://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/administration/president/DiversityOffice/Definitions.htm
Hofstede, G. (1984). Cultural dimensions in management and planning. [Pdf]. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 1, 81–99. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/content/pdf/10.1007/BF01733682.pdf
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing Cultural Differences (9th ed.). Oxford: Routledge.
Ortiz, F. (2018). Managing diversity in the workplace – How to successfully go about it. Retrieved from https://bluecollarpeople.com/managing-diversity-workplace-successfully-go/
Pennsylvania State University. (2020). Leadership in a global context – OLEAD 410. Lesson 1: Introduction to leadership in a global context, Penn State World Campus. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2041071/modules/items/27977814
Taniguchi, M. (n.d.). Waseda Online: Diversity management improving business performance. Retrieved from https://yab.yomiuri.co.jp/adv/wol/dy/opinion/economy.html#p01