Studies and research have consistently found that workplace diversity leads to better performance (Hunt et al. 2015, Sommers 2006, Levine 2014). Thomas (1990) argued that well managing and fully utilising diverse teams could maximise potential benefits which lead to competitive advantages for organisations. The Chartered Management Institute (2014) suggested that diversity management involves establishing and implementing strategies to integrate individual differences into a dynamic workforce. It is not only legislated to promote fairness and prevent discrimination but it also recognises and values different personalities to positively utilise the unique talents within (CMI 2014). Therefore, manging diversity is an important but challenging responsibility for leaders nowadays (Yukl 2013).
London consists of more than 42.6% black and minority ethnic, the trend in immigration as shown in Figure 1 is a key driver to cultural diversity (GLA 2016, ONS 2017). To understand the differences, the Hofstede model is a particularly useful tool to study how values in the workplace are influenced by different national culture (Hofstede 1997). For example, PWC is a leader in managing cultural diversity and received the Race Equality Awards in 2016 (Business in the Community 2016). Comparing UK’s and India’s Hofstede score, British is more indulgent where they put a higher emphasis on leisure time whereas Indian is more restraint where they have the perception that realising impulses and desires is not appropriate in the workplace (Hofstede 1997). PWC leverages the differences by its Flexibility2™ programme which aims to balance work-life demands for individuals (PWC 2017). Teams are encouraged to accommodate each other’s priorities by allowing remote working, flexible hours, casual dress code e.t.c. (PWC 2015). Taking the example of indulgence, PWC managers could therefore make use of the programme and arrange flexible working hours especially Fridays for British members and maintain a more regular work hours for Indian members and adjust when necessary. Allowing the teams to plan for their own flexibility, PWC could benefit from demonstrating ethical leadership to improve employee engagement leading to increasing productivity and quality (PWC 2015).
Diversity does not only limit to ethnic origins, but it also takes other forms including attitudes and abilities. Nomothetic approach such as the Big Five theory and Eysenck’s theory (1947) views personality as inherited and stable which can be measured (Smith 2013). Idiographic approach by Erikson’s theory (1950) uses a more dynamic perspective to identify the whole development of personality in response to environmental conditions (Smith 2013). Other approaches like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1980), Type A and Type B personality tests make use of different psychometric tests. These approaches’ common purpose is to provide a tool for managers to identify individual characteristic in the attempt of making a more precise decision and predicting future performance to reduce uncertainty (Mullins and Christy 2016). However, it is often expensive and time-consuming due to the complexity of individual personalities (Smith 2013). Psychometric tests rely on self-reporting, which could be distorted and therefore unrealistic. As they are readily available in an unregulated market, these tests are often associated with data privacy issue making them hard to implement in businesses.
Gender equality is one of the most important aspects of managing diversity (Mullins and Christy 2014). Although McKinsey’s research (2016) found that more than 78% of surveyed companies treat gender equality as their business priorities, the outcome is often insignificant (McKinsey 2016). The glass ceiling does not only come from bias of gender stereotypes, but also from unequal opportunities for advancement (McKinsey 2016). The United Nations and governments continuously promote gender equality through campaigns like ‘HeForShe’ and ‘Think-Act-Report’. Leaders should actively commit to these campaigns and establish an accountable diversity governance structure. Providing support and corporate guideline could gradually shape the organisation culture (Yukl 2013). PWC started manging gender diversity in 2004 by promoting a globally standardised approach (PWC 2016). The result was however insignificant as one size does not fit all. PWC has therefore evolved the strategy and tailored it for each of its operating country. For example PwC Brazil has ‘FlexMenu’ programme to increase employee engagement while PwC Germany has ‘Up! Talk’ programme to provide female mentoring (PWC 2016). Updating its annual Women in Work Index Report and monthly Gender Agenda blog further reinforce the accountability of this firm’s core value and mission (PWC 2016). Despite the challenge, PWC acknowledges there is no ‘quick fix’ for gender diversity (PWC 2016). Since recognising its past mistakes, a significant improvement is reflected as 17% more female employee felt equal opportunities in 2015 (PWC 2016).
Although there is always differences within people, it is equally important to focus on the similarities. Below is one of my all-time favourite quote that concludes it all!
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