Diversity management: diversity in the team

There’s an old saying that goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This Statement also runs through many companies. You will hire someone, if the person is similar to you. But this limits companies to their own potential, because it shows: Diversity Management is the key to success.

In the search for the right employees, managers often tend to repeatedly hire the same type of person. One that is very similar to themselves. Why? In short: You know each other, you like each other. Explained in a little more detail: Companies try to function as smoothly as possible. People who hold the same values, the same views, and even come from the same culture are thought to create less friction than those who are very different. But friction in particular can also provide positive energy that companies should take advantage of. One method of bringing a breath of fresh air and thus regularly new impulses into a team is so-called diversity management.


Diversity Management is desirable on many levels

There are many reasons why companies should practice diversity management. One approach, for example, is the discrimination and fairness approach. The basic idea here is that everyone should have the same opportunities, regardless of gender, background or other factors. Another way of looking at it is the access and legitimacy approach. This approach builds on economic considerations. For example, managers hope to tap into new markets and target groups by hiring employees with the appropriate attributes. Of course, an integrative approach that combines economic and moral reasons is also conceivable.

Above all, companies are called upon to respond to the current opportunities and problems offered by the labor market. For example, companies are confronted with demographic change, globalization, a change in values, a declining workforce and a shortage of skilled workers. In addition, more and more women and people with a migration background are entering the labor market, who have different needs and to which companies must adapt. Demographic change in particular is a source of concern for many company managements. Over the next 20 years, around 24 million people will retire. At the same time, fewer and fewer children are being born to fill this gap. According to estimates, there will already be a shortage of more than six million workers in 2025. However, many companies are already noticing this. In addition, the trend is for the retirement age to increase, meaning that companies face the challenge of meeting the needs of Generation Traditionals to Generation Z to satisfy.


Utilize potentials

In order to take advantage of the full acquisition potential, companies should therefore not limit themselves, but rather place specific emphasis on ensuring that their team is diversely positioned. Therefore, attributes such as age, gender, national and cultural origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or identity, and disabilities should not be exclusion criteria. In this way, companies can benefit not only from the professional expertise of their employees, but also from unusual perspectives, different experiences and a variety of solutions. As a result, the company is less stuck in its mindset, can react more flexibly to problems, avoids shitstorms and strengthens its external image.

Companies that maintain good diversity management appear more international and cosmopolitan to the outside world. This makes them attractive not only to different potential candidates, but also to different customer bases. This also has positive effects internally. When employees feel they can be themselves, this has a demonstrably positive impact on performance and also improves the working atmosphere. In addition, the operating profit of listed companies where the board of directors consists of both men and women is significantly higher than those with only male board members.


It all comes down to the right planning

Ein gutes Diversity Management kann dabei nur selten von heute auf morgen implementiert werden und sollte daher fest in der Unternehmensstruktur verankert sein. Dafür muss zum einen die Unternehmenskultur und der Marktauftritt so angepasst werden, dass diese vielfältige Talente ansprechen. Zum anderen sollten die Rekrutierungs- und Arbeitsprozesse auf mögliche Diskriminierungen geprüft werden. Hier kann es auch hilfreich sein, externe Berater*innen hinzuziehen, die eine gewisse Distanz zum Unternehmen mitbringen und so unbewusste Diskriminierungen eher wahrnehmen. Talente sollten zudem die Möglichkeit bekommen, sich zu entwickeln und das Gefühl haben, dass ihre individuellen Merkmale und Lebensumstände wertgeschätzt werden. Hinzu kommt, dass Gleichstellung und Antidiskriminierung gesetzliche Verpflichtungen sind und Mitarbeiter*innen ihre Rechte einklagen können. Wer von vornherein ein gutes Diversity Management hat, minimiert also das Risiko, sich seinen Mitarbeiter*innen gegenüber nicht angemessen zu verhalten.  

Self-reflection is the first step in good diversity management. In the course of this, the personnel structure must first be analyzed and the personnel requirements planned for the long term in order to define the company’s own needs. Furthermore, one’s own leadership style should be reviewed and adjusted if necessary. It is important to encourage other managers and in-house or external recruiters to build diverse teams in line with the company’s strategy. Working spaces and hours should also be geared to the needs of all employees. In addition, a strategy can be developed on how to best utilize the potential of individuals. Other measures include: Gender management (promotion of women to management positions), the provision of company kindergartens for employees with families, programs to retain older employees (age diversity), the establishment of workplaces for people with disabilities, concepts for balancing work and leisure (work-life balance/work-life integration) and the development of international culture management.

Even small changes can create an atmosphere in which employees and potential candidates feel comfortable. But if you want to harness the full potential of a diverse workforce in the long term, you need to systematically embed diversity management in your corporate culture. This can ultimately improve not only a company’s performance, but also its image.

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