the challenge for the future
Diversity management is not just a soft skill dealing with the moral refinements of fairness. It is not an affirmative action programme with crazy quotas; rather it means new markets, new customers, new users of your products and services.
Are you a CEO of a corporation? Or perhaps the director of marketing, product development or the HR department? Are you responsible for large projects? If you are, you may have noticed the increasing diversity in your company and its environment. This article deals with increasing diversity and complexity and how to manage it. It will offer a clear, coherent strategic concept which will help you manage your own organisational and environmental diversity more effectively and consequently lead to the improvement of the bottomline of your business. You are probably thinking: “Oh, not quotas, conflicts, fear and accusations again.” But wait. Keep on reading and you will be pleasantly surprised. Challenging megatrends It is easy to see that change – often significant change – is everywhere. The diversity of the stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, colleagues and shareholders as well as the diversity of immediate and not so immediate social and political environments are becoming increasingly complex and, as a result, more difficult to manage. What are the causes of this increasing diversity and complexity? Here are just a few. Globalisation Markets and customers are changing rapidly. Currently corporations are not only competing locally and regionally, but also worldwide. Different production and infrastructure costs in widely diverging investment environments and contexts enable businesses to gain cost advantages. Whether it be in production, sales, marketing or HR, corporations are increasingly being forced to act and think globally. Customers as well as staff are becoming more internationally, interculturally and biographically diverse. Demographic Changes are also becoming increasingly noticeable. In each nation the demographic Dr Marion Keil is CEO of the consulting company, synetz in Germany which is active in change and diversity management, leadership and strategy development, internationalisation, large group facilitation and team and executive coaching.Her clients include some South African companies. Together with her Nigerian colleague, Ben Arikpo of Akada Consult, she trained about 100 management consultants all over Africa. She may be contacted at marion.keil @synetz.de. data point to wider diversity than ever before. In Europe, for example, age is becoming a point of contention. The graying populations are becoming larger and more expensive to take care of. Those countries especially affected are Spain, Italy and Greece, followed by Austria and Germany. Not only do age demographics influence pension and care systems, but also communal growth and housing. The contrary example for the significance of age demographics is in South Africa where creating work opportunities for youth is one of the most challenging issues. If not solved, this could result in a loss of human resources for a whole generation.
Women Women are gaining more and more financial power through their more frequent and enduring entry into work forces as well as their own changing understanding of themselves and their roles. As they become more empowered they also play more of the decision making role as consumers. Have corporations adjusted to these demographics and role changes? Up until now there have not been a wide enough variety of products and services on the market which are directed at the new needs of women (in product development there are few women!) Neither are women in advertising taken seriously. ‘Typical feminine’ product advertising as in cosmetics is still the rule. This should not be surprising considering the fact that so few women are found in high level management. As Tom Peters, the American management guru once expressed...
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