For organisations implementing a global diversity and inclusion strategy, it’s important to understand how to distinguish diversity in social, legal and political terms.
This will provide a sound basis for developing the cultural competencies to manage multicultural teams, and ease smooth transitions for employees between business units around the world.
The workplace should be a safe space that is free from all forms of discrimination. But as global firms expand, they can come up against local cultures that can engender discrimination, or legislation that outlaws’ homosexuality, for example – with the result that LGBT+ people can face imprisonment, or even in the worst case scenario death – this means they face many challenges.
Research shows that diversity is never as straight forward as one would think. Diverse teams will normally improve performance. Adding diverse viewpoints to a workforce nurtures innovation and creativity in a variety of ways, with inclusive organisations appealing to the best of global talent. This allows for teams to be more productive, with the workforce gaining a wider understanding of the needs of their customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
Diversity issues vary from one country to the next and a simple uniform policy may often be unable to deal with such complexity. Global D & I programs must accommodate variations in historical, social, political, cultural and legal contexts. Diversity may enhance the potential for language and other communication barriers, heightening the risk of ambiguity, and decision-making differences. In addition, stereotypes and other forms of bias can threaten rapport and stifle the exchange of information and ideas.
For example, if an employee identifying as LGBT+ were to be transferred to the Singapore office and was openly HIV+, they would only be able to take up residence for 3 months under current legislation. To avoid potential crises, it is important that Human Resources departments and Inclusive Talent Management experts are attentive to local legislation and the impact it has on employees.
So global policies should allow for culturally appropriate alignment. Without sacrificing or undermining corporate values, policies must be flexed where necessary to fulfil the statutes of law at a local level. This challenge is often referred to as “Global to Glocal” among diversity professionals.
At the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion our global Members use our Global Knowledge Bank to learn about the countries society, culture and legislation. It empowers leaders to identify impending issues and equips them with the understanding they need to operate in a global marketplace.