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Medium 9781605094502

1 Managing Workforce Representation

Roosevelt Thomas Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

CEOs and other senior executives initiated the Managing Workforce Representation strategy (quadrant) in the 1960s to address the “diversity problem” of mainstreaming African Americans into their organizations. It is one of the two original organizational diversity management efforts—and the one that most people think of when they speak of diversity. The other strategy was Managing Workforce Relationships.

In the spirit of the civil rights laws and the civil rights movement, those senior managers sought to remove barriers to having descendants of slaves involved (represented) in their organizations. They sought this representation not for the sake of diversity or for the benefit of their organizations, but rather to make amends for past injustices.

On the surface, recruiting and hiring African Americans should have been rather straightforward. Yet it wasn’t. These leaders encountered an unexpected complication. Though willing, they were unprepared and lacked experience to recruit and select African Americans for professional, managerial, and skilled positions.

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6 Managing Complexity

Roosevelt Thomas Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

This chapter places front and center a capability that is inherent in each of the diversity management strategies—that of managing complexity. To effectively implement any of the strategies, CEOs must acknowledge and accept that there will be surrounding complexities, and be ready to address them.

The chapter has three objectives: (1) to examine the relationship between complexity and diversity, (2) to explore the notion that many complexities can be restated as diversity mixtures, and (3) to argue that SDMP can be used to address these mixtures. These three objectives serve the broader one of preparing the reader for the realities of diversity and complexity.

This preparation is important because a symbiotic relationship exists between the two: Where you have diversity, you have complexity; and where you have complexity, you have diversity. Are the two concepts the same? They are not. But because diversity generates complexity, they are found in the same neighborhood.

I first affirmed this when a client requested an introductory, three-week seminar on diversity for managers from around the world. There was, he said, only one critical proviso—I could not use the word diversity. The client believed the word did not work outside of the United States. Although I knew from personal experience that diversity—as defined by me—worked perfectly well across nations, I did not argue the point; instead, I asked if we could replace it with complexity. The client agreed to that substitution.

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4 Managing All Strategic Diversity Mixtures

Roosevelt Thomas Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Quadrant 4, Managing All Strategic Diversity Mixtures, is less well known than the earlier quadrants. But it is not unknown. CEOs and other organizational leaders who define workforce diversity as “the differences and similarities that can exist among the elements of a workforce mixture” are increasingly aware of and beginning to gravitate toward this quadrant. As a rule, they do so gradually.

Having begun to view workforce diversity with a broader perspective, CEOs and other organizational leaders start to think about non-workforce differences and similarities that may be hampering productivity. Once they do, many of these executives come to believe that organizations must address more than workforce diversity. They see more clearly that an infinite number of diversity mixtures exist and, in one form or another, demand daily attention. They begin to view this quadrant as the “universal strategy.”

A key attraction of a diversity strategy that can manage non-workforce issues is that these issues frequently relate to challenges that unquestionably are critical to the bottom line: achieving functional synergy, implementing an acquisition or merger, managing a product portfolio, fostering innovations, promoting effective field and headquarters relationships, and coordinating global expansion. Because many senior executives see their personal stock as leaders rise and fall on how such issues turn out, such a strategy possesses face validity as something they can legitimately sink their teeth into.

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7 The Dynamics of Strategies and Paradigms

Roosevelt Thomas Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

CEOs seeking effectiveness with all four of the core diversity management strategies (quadrants) must master the dynamics of strategies and paradigms. Otherwise, their ability to move between the strategies as required by World-Class Diversity Management will be hampered. World class will require that an organization’s prevailing paradigms and intended strategies are in sync.

This chapter examines some of the dynamics of using the four diversity management strategies and their undergirding paradigms in pursuit of World-Class Diversity Management. It particularly explores how the core strategies and paradigms provide a path to World-Class Diversity Management capability.

As noted earlier, I see this capability as the ability to employ best practices from anywhere to address any diversity mixture, in any setting (workforce, workplace, marketplace, community, family, for example), and in any geographic location. This status is dynamic, not static. As practices inherent in the strategies that contribute to the universal approach continue to evolve, so will those associated with World-Class Diversity Management.

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3 Managing Diverse Talent

Roosevelt Thomas Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The Managing Diverse Talent Quadrant emerged when the earlier two strategies did not resolve a seemingly intractable problem. As CEOs made progress with creating a representative work-force and promoting productive relationships, they struggled with the persistent and ongoing challenge of retaining nontraditional workers. They concluded in the mid-1980s that part of the problem was their inability to fully utilize the capabilities of African Americans. Recruiting them and accepting, respecting, and valuing their differences had not led to full utilization of their talent and to their retention. The revolving doors, glass ceilings, and premature plateaus continued. So management began to embrace this strategy in hopes of enhancing utilization and thereby, retention of African Americans. Later, this strategy was extended to women and other minorities. However, as in previous chapters, from an evolutionary perspective, I will focus on the situation vis-à-vis African Americans.

In attempting to address the diversity problem, CEOs again encountered the complexity of diversity—this time with respect to fully utilizing the talent of all organizational employees. In the mid-1980s, a prevailing managerial philosophy was that “the cream would rise to the top.” But CEOs found that this relatively uncomplicated approach to people development was not working: The cream of African Americans in particular was not rising to the top. Complexities engulfed this diversity problem. A few are mentioned below:

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