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Diversity? Don't Overdo It.

Popularity 1Viewed 292 times 2019-12-3 04:53 |System category:News

  Diversity is supposed to be good for a company because it provides an opportunity for a company's C-suite to solicit employees' views from different races. On top of that, it also allows women to put new ideas forth as more and more  plucky women enter the workforce and become a forced to be reckoned with; a few hard-nosed female execs even have been cheery-picked to preside over the biggest American companies' day-to-day operations.

  Yet Adrian Woolridge, a well-regarded columnist at  The Economist,  begs to differ in one article published by The Economist. He contends that for all the benefits  spawned by the implementation of  gender-neutral policies that are aimed to promote diversity, an over-reliance on diversity brings about what he calls diversity fatigue.   Adrian Woolridge  cites a study conducted by  David Livermore, the author of a book entitled  Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation through Diversity, to buttress his point. " Over the years he has been struck by how many companies complain that they are not getting much return for their investment in diversity," writes Adrian Woolridge, adding that "managers are dragooned into sitting through lengthy seminars on equal opportunities. They are fearful of saying anything that departs from the “correct” line on any diversity-related matter."

  So what can be done to help companies not to be hemmed in by diversity fatigue?  What are the most troubling issues for companies when it comes to grappling with diversity fatigue? Adrian Woolridge, who now covers British politics for The Economist, points out  some vexed issues facing companies in terms of diversity in his article. And his findings and advice might be helpful for Chinese companies striving to crack foreign markets by setting up shop in local markets.  Such Chinese companies  have to cope with territorial silos to boot.

  "The biggest challenge is to do with trust. Employees need to trust each other if they are to produce their best work. This is particularly true if that work involves tackling creative projects that have a high risk of failure and a circuitous path to success. But it is easier to establish trust with those you have a lot in common with. Mr Livermore notes that diverse teams have a higher degree of variance in their performance than homogeneous teams. They are more likely to produce truly innovative ideas, but they are also more likely to fail completely. He suggests that managers of diverse teams need to work hard at establishing bonds of trust. They need to set lots of short-term goals so that teams can see the benefits of working together. They also need to recognise that different groups forge trust in different ways. Westerners tend to think that getting straight down to the task at hand is the best way to do this, whereas South Asians believe in establishing rapport over cups of tea first. A second challenge is to do with culture. Too many companies fail to rethink their management styles as they open their doors to new groups. They issue ambiguous instructions which presume that everyone comes from the same background. For example, one Western company urged its employees to “act like an owner” without realising that, in some cultures, acting like an owner means playing golf all day. They evaluate people on their willingness to speak up without realising that some people—women especially, in many countries—are brought up to hold their tongues and defer to authority. Mr Livermore argues that managers need to work harder at getting members of silent minorities to speak up and, failing that, give them other ways of contributing to the collective effort. Your columnist would add a third challenge: distinguishing between genuine cultural diversity and the box-ticking sort. It is easy for companies to think that they have embraced diversity if they appoint the right number of people with the right biological characteristics. That can be hollow if they all come from the same backgrounds—if, say, all the black people a firm promotes to management are Harvard-educated sons of diplomats," writes  Adrian Woolridge.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (3 comments)

Reply Report tatata69 2019-12-3 18:43
Diversity is supposed to be good for a company because it provides an opportunity for the company's C-suite to solicit employees' views from different races.
Reply Report snowipine 2019-12-9 11:45
what  is C-suite ?
Reply Report tatata69 2019-12-9 15:59
snowipine: what  is C-suite ?
C-suite=top brass or a company's management.

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