Relationship Between Organizational Leadership & Diversity Management

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Diversity provides the opportunity to share varying beliefs and experiences.
Diversity provides the opportunity to share varying beliefs and experiences. (Image: NA/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A strong relationship exists between organizational leadership and diversity management. For a company to properly manage diversity, the company's leadership must take a strong stance in favor of organizational diversity and make a commitment to manage and measure its success.

The Impact of Leadership on an Organization

A company's leadership defines the culture of an organization. Senior leadership is responsible for ensuring that communication and company culture trickle downward to middle management and individual contributors in the company. Whether the concept is employee engagement, diversity management or anything else, senior leadership needs to actively pursue it, and believe in it, for it to succeed in the organization. Senior-level managers have the most reach and power within an organization, and their ideals travel downward throughout the organization.

Diversity Management and Human Resources

While management must begin the focus on diversity management in an organization, a bulk of the responsibility falls on human resources. Human resources hires new employees based on the rules and regulations set forth by senior management. If hiring people with diverse skill sets and backgrounds is a priority, human resources is responsible for fulfilling this goal. Human resources will likely be charged with creating a diversity management plan for the organization, and it may encompass hiring and retaining diverse talent. Senior leadership will have an opportunity to approve or deny the plan, based on how well it meets the needs and current culture of the organization.

Leadership's Role in Diversity Communication

If a high-level manager sends an email to company employees, it is likely to have more impact than an email sent from an unknown person. That is why it is crucial that company leadership takes an active role in communicating diversity initiatives. Managers must ensure that a company becomes immersed in diversity management. Simply saying that diversity is a good thing isn't enough. Managers need to show employees that diversity is positively affecting the company to earn employee buy-in.

A company's leadership team needs to communicate the desire for diversity in multiple ways. Diversity management should be built into different facets of the organization. For example, a company may alter its mission statement to say that it aims to serve a diverse client base or it can note that diversity management is a major part of the organization's hiring practices.

Organizational Decisions Based on Diversity Practices

Diversity management goes beyond company culture and hiring practices. A company's management team can make decisions that affect which outside vendors a company selects. A company can interview several vendors to print employee paychecks. If two vendors are relatively equal, but one is owned by a minority- or woman-owned supplier, that company may be awarded the contract because it supports the company's diversity initiatives.

Diversity Management and Organizational Success

Some management theorists believe that diverse organizations perform better than those with homogeneous employees. This is likely because diversity in the workplace provides differing perspectives that cannot be found when everyone in a workplace shares the same background and beliefs. According to the "Health Care Management Review," managing diversity can improve a company's performance, enhance customer and employee satisfaction and improve workplace communication.

The Importance of Measuring the Success of Diversity Management

A diversity initiative must be measurable so leaders can determine its effectiveness. It is management's responsibility to assess the success of the company's diversity management initiative so the company can make any necessary changes to the program. If the diversity management program is not effective, leadership will be charged with determining what went wrong and what can be done to effectively manage organizational diversity going forward.

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