Diversity should be embraced by organizations, not only because it provides the ability to compete in global markets, nor just for social responsibility or corporate reputation reasons.
The crucial reason, besides the fact it makes for better places to work, is the considerable evidence that diversity can improve bottom line performance. Research has shown that heterogeneous teams consistently out-perform homogeneous teams in a variety of ways, leading to better decision making and problem solving, greater creativity and innovation, improved connection to customers, and the eradication of ‘groupthink’.
Unfortunately, however well-intentioned we may be, we are all drawn to and biased towards ‘people like us’. We still hire in our own image and too often, although organizations aim to tick the diversity box when reporting on CSR, they actually practice what the authors of this book describe as homogeneous talent management.
In their new book, Inclusive Talent Management, two experienced practitioners, Stephen Frost, previously Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the London Olympics and Danny Kalman, previously Director of Global Talent at Panasonic, call for action. Quoting Martin Luther King, they say “We are confronted with a fierce urgency… This is the time for vigorous and positive action”. If this was true at the time they wrote the book it is even more so after the Brexit vote and the US presidential campaign, which both revealed a lack of public appreciation of the importance of diversity to the quality of our organizations and our lives.
For organizations to move from homogeneous talent management, that fails to account for the benefits of difference, to inclusive talent management, that does, involves not only a determination to abandon discriminatory practices but also a cultural shift to ensure a diversity of voices, outlooks and backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged. A shift to a culture where managers responsible for recruitment and talent development no longer see any distinction between policies on diversity and those on talent management.
As these authors point out leadership is key. The leader’s role is to understand their own personal prejudices, their ‘in groups’, and their own sense of place in the world and from this standpoint to drive inclusivity. Enlightened leaders recognise that promoting diversity is in no way in opposition to building talent in their organizations.
For all of the reasons mentioned above and for reasons of demographic change and skills shortage organizations need to tap diverse talent. The authors pinpoint where organizations are getting it wrong today and, quoting cases from Goldman Sachs, KPMG, Unilever and others, offer practical ways to avoid roadblocks and incorporate diversity into talent management strategies in order to build inclusive organizations.
This book is a great example of the output of publisher Kogan Page, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. A leading independent global publisher of professional books, Kogan Page has consistently published relevant, insightful, business books that make complex concepts accessible to busy practitioners. ‘Inclusive Talent Management’ is one of five titles, published by Kogan Page, shortlisted for the 2017 CMI Management Book of the Year prize.
‘Inclusive Talent Management: How Business Can Thrive in an Age of Diversity’, Stephen Frost and Danny Kalman, Published by Kogan Page, 2016, ISBN 978-0-7494-7587-1