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Diversity Management

Diversity in the company as part of the personnel strategy and organisational development

Preventive strategies for coping with demographic change are aimed at promoting the employees' performance and ability to work. Solutions are provided by diversity management.

The challenges of demographic change permeate the public discussion and statistical projections regularly confront the public with scenarios about the aging society. Companies must deal with this phenomenon. They are therefore looking for appropriate personnel policy responses to demographic change. Answers are provided by diversity management.

This is a company management concept which integrates employees' diversity into HR strategy and into organisational development.

The "Online Diversity" tool at www.online-diversity.de (only available in German), was developed so companies can check their handling of - on their own or in cooperation with consultants - and obtain initial approaches to shape their diversity in positive ways. It has been tested in about 100 companies of various sizes and sectors. Its use helps to access the topic of diversity management. This in turn makes it possible to locate initial fields of action.

Description of the instrument and operational benefit

With the "Online Diversity" tool, companies, public and private institutions of all sizes and sectors can test their diversity management free of charge online. It is aimed in particular at SMEs and those with little or no experience with the subject.

The core of the aid is the self-analysis tool "Online Diversity", which is supplemented by

  • the short check "Diversity ",
  • sound information on Diversity Management,
  • explanations on relevant design fields as well as
  • information regarding design possibilities.

Registration is necessary in order to be able to use "Online Diversity". The collected data must be stored in order to obtain an evaluation and comparative data. It is also possible to print the questionnaires.

The questionnaire deals with the diversity of the workforce in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and the integration of performance-altered workers. The fields of action include personnel management, work organisation and work design, qualification and competence development, leadership and corporate culture, health and occupational safety, product development and marketing.

To answer all questionnaires, up to two hours are required. The answering process can however be interrupted by saving your current status. After answering, you will receive points for each field of action as well as for all the answers. For an initial, quick assessment, about ten minutes are required.

Productive integration of different employees

Corresponding with the much-cited demographic changes in Germany, the structure of the available labour force is changing as well. Due to the decline in population, it will be more difficult to find new suitable workers. The productive integration of different employee groups therefore supports companies' future viability.

This task, referred to as "Diversity Management", goes beyond the basic statutory provisions of the General Act on Equal Treatment. It aims to unlock and utilise the dormant potential in the diversity of the workforce. The aim of this approach is not to obscure or ignore differences between individual employees or groups of employees, but to use the diversity and distinctness of the employees as productively as possible for the company.

The economic benefits can also be demonstrated: namely, where the diversity of the workforce can be used as an impetus for new offers or the acquisition of new customer groups. Furthermore, studies show that mixed teams (gender, age, nationality, cultural background) can be more productive than homogeneous teams.

The key question a company needs to ask is: What is to be achieved?

Here are some examples:

  • The labour force potential should be exploited.
  • New employees are to be involved.
  • Conflicts between employee groups are to be reduced.
  • Work satisfaction and staff retention should be improved.
  • New customer groups are to be acquired.
  • The company's image needs to be improved.

Depending on the target, for example, the following questions are asked:

  • Are there homogeneous employee groups that have their own identity and dissociate themselves from other employees?
  • How strong are they?
  • Where does this impair limits to productive cooperation?
  • Are there specific individual or group needs, for example due to gender, age or religious affiliation, which must be considered in the sense of an appreciative treatment of the employees?
  • Does this result in conflicts, for example with other employees, in terms of work goals and contact with customers?
  • Are there prejudices or discrimination against employees or groups of employees among the staff?

Consulting on demographics as a component of Diversity Management

Diversity Management combines the diversity of a company's employees constructively in terms of finding solutions to problems and promoting innovations. The age-structural changes in society and economy are thus becoming an issue of employee diversity. There is no delimitation problem between demographic change and diversity management. Rather, from an operational point of view, there is a need for action beyond academic debates.

Well-established diversity management can be an indicator of the willingness of a company to promote the professional development of its older employees. Conversely, this means: further training for the elderly is essentially dependent on the basic value orientation of a company, i.e. the degree of consciousness for the benefits of age diversity.

As with the operational impact of demographic change, it is necessary to educate entrepreneurial decision-makers on opportunities and ways of using the potential of older people. In SMEs, demographic change and the consequent concept of appropriate age-related diversity management do not seem to be an urgent topic.

The ageing workforce and the associated impact on the labour and sales markets represent a long-term challenge. Therefore, demography consulting integrated into diversity management is a sensible and sustainable way to prepare SMEs for the future and to secure jobs.

In conclusion: it is desirable that diversity and demographics management are taken into account in classic business consulting as well as established management approaches.