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Home » Articles » Diversity management: Definition, characteristics, types, and best practices

Diversity management: Definition, characteristics, types, and best practices

Diversity management has become a crucial business strategy in the current economic climate for organizations that want to succeed. As workplaces become more diverse and multicultural, success has been largely attributed to embracing diversity and using it to one’s advantage.

However, it goes beyond mere representation.

Diversity management involves creating a fair and inclusive work environment where employees from all backgrounds feel valued, respected, and empowered.

Diversity management is fundamentally about recognizing the unique strengths and perspectives that individuals from diverse backgrounds bring to the table.

It covers a broad spectrum of characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, and cultural heritage.

This article delves into the concept of diversity management, exploring its significance, characteristics, types, and best practices.

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By reading this article and understanding the principles discussed in the following sections, companies can position themselves as agents of positive change.

What is diversity management?

Diversity management is a strategy companies use to establish a work environment that promotes equality, inclusivity, and diversity.

Successful diversity management creates a workplace where all employees are listened to, regardless of their backgrounds and characteristics. 

This concept brings various challenges to businesses, such as:

  • Overcoming subconscious biases and stereotypes. These can unintentionally influence hiring decisions, performance evaluations, career progression, and may ultimately lead to the underrepresentation or exclusion of certain groups within a business.
  • Getting rid of workplace discrimination, harassment, and microaggressions to adopt an inclusive culture. This requires a coordinated effort as well as constant education and awareness programs.
  • Gauging the effectiveness of initiatives. Because of this, it’s crucial for businesses to use the right assessment tools to evaluate the success of their diversity initiatives. During this process, they can also pinpoint areas for development.
What is diversity management

Characteristics of diversity management

No matter what company or industry, diversity management entails three constant and critical characteristics.

These are discussed in detail below:

Voluntary commitment

Diversity management is a voluntary process. It’s undertaken by companies that genuinely recognize and embrace the value of promoting diversity and inclusion.

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Unlike legal requirements that may set minimum standards for diversity representation, businesses practicing diversity management go beyond mere compliance.

They wholeheartedly commit to creating an environment that celebrates individual differences and embraces the idea that diversity contributes significantly to organizational success.

This voluntary commitment translates into a more inclusive workplace culture, where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to bring their authentic selves to work.

Tangible benefits

Effective diversity management offers tangible benefits that help a firm on several levels:

Employee engagement

The most important benefit is the rise in employee engagement.

Employees are more likely to be invested in their work and dedicated to the success of their company when they feel that their different viewpoints are valued and acknowledged.

Improved decision-making

Additionally, diversity improves a company’s decision-making process.

A varied workforce brings together a range of perspectives and approaches, resulting in more thorough and innovative solutions. 

This diversity of thought and experience can significantly improve problem-solving and strategic planning.

Enhanced productivity

Diversity management also boosts productivity.

Inclusive workplaces give employees a sense of community and good mental well-being. This motivates them to cooperate and communicate efficiently.

As a result, overall performance and productivity are improved. 

Further, actively practicing diversity management has a positive impact on an organization’s reputation.

Businesses that prioritize diversity are seen as progressive and socially responsible. They attract potential employees, clients, and investors who value an inclusive and diverse environment.

Types of diversity management

Diversity management can be divided into two categories: Intranational and cross-national.

Embracing diversity at both the national and international levels not only strengthens a company’s reputation but also empowers employees to collaborate more effectively.

This ultimately drives success on a global scale.

Take a closer look at the two types of diversity management below:

Intranational diversity management

Intranational diversity management centers on promoting diversity and inclusion within one country.

It is specifically concerned with addressing the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and needs of employees within an organization’s national boundaries.

This approach recognizes that even within a single country, there can be a wide range of cultural, social, and individual differences that impact the workplace dynamics.

To effectively implement intranational diversity management, companies need to develop policies, practices, and initiatives that cater to the specific needs of their diverse workforce.

Cross-national diversity management

Cross-national diversity management takes diversity initiatives beyond the borders of a single country.

It becomes especially relevant for organizations with a global presence where teams operate across different countries and cultural contexts.

In this situation, managing diversity requires an in-depth understanding of regional customs. 

Cross-national diversity management entails customizing diversity programs to fit the distinct cultural backgrounds, legal systems, and social norms of various countries.

To ensure that diversity and inclusion efforts are relevant and effective across different international teams, cross-national diversity management demands a flexible and adaptive approach.

Types of diversity management

Best practices for improving your business’ diversity management

Listed below are some of the best practices to implement in your company for improving your diversity management:

Implement unbiased hiring practices

Organizations should implement unbiased hiring practices.

This includes eliminating bias from job descriptions, adopting diverse recruitment sources, and ensuring that hiring decisions are based solely on skills, qualifications, and experience.

Create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are instrumental in improving diversity management.

These groups provide a platform for employees with shared identities or interests to connect, share experiences, and influence positive change within an organization.

ERGs can help provide a sense of belonging and support for employees from diverse backgrounds.

Offer diversity training and education

Successful diversity management calls for comprehensive diversity education and training.

These programs combat stereotypes, enhance cultural competence among workers, and increase awareness of unconscious biases.

Through diversity training, employees can learn to recognize their own prejudices and develop the abilities to create an inclusive workplace.

Make sure benefits and programs are inclusive

Re-evaluate your provided benefit plans and programs. Make sure, for instance, that they provide adequate support for employees who are caregivers or nursing mothers.

Put in place flexible schedules and resources, such as designated nursing areas or eldercare seminars.

These can go a long way in helping those with caregiver responsibilities fully contribute while maintaining work-life balance. 

Conduct regular diversity audits

Periodically conduct diversity audits to assess the representation of various groups within the organization.

Analyze diversity metrics, such as the gender and ethnic composition of different teams and departments, and identify areas where diversity may be lacking.

Use the data obtained from the audit to set diversity goals and track progress over time.

Establish clear diversity and inclusion policies

Develop and communicate clear diversity and inclusion policies that outline the organization’s commitment to creating an inclusive work environment.

Ensure that these policies are accessible to all employees and are consistently enforced. Organizations should promote a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment.

Implement fair pay

Make sure your employees’ salaries never vary based on gender, race, or any other characteristic other than experience, skills, performance, job post, or seniority. 

Celebrate diversity and cultural events

Celebrate diversity and cultural events within your company. Recognize and appreciate different cultural holidays, practices, and heritage months.

Organize events and activities that encourage employees to share their cultural traditions and experiences.

Celebrating diversity promotes understanding and respect among employees.

Collaborate with varied suppliers and business partners

Extend diversity management efforts beyond the organization by collaborating with diverse suppliers and business partners.

Encourage supplier diversity programs that prioritize working with minority-owned, women-owned, and other diverse businesses.

Partnering with diverse suppliers contributes to a more inclusive supply chain and supports the success of diverse entrepreneurs.

Establish diverse leadership development programs

Companies should invest in diverse leadership development programs to identify and nurture high-potential employees from diverse backgrounds.

These programs provide specialized training, networking opportunities, and exposure to senior leadership roles.

Building a diverse leadership team ensures various perspectives and experiences are represented in decision-making processes.

Best practices for improving your business’ diversity management

Why diversity management is important

Diversity management is a strategic imperative for modern organizations.

Embracing diversity and creating an inclusive work environment not only promotes employee well-being and satisfaction but also drives organizational success and enhances the company’s reputation.

By implementing these best practices and prioritizing diversity management, businesses can thrive in today’s dynamic global landscape.

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