In workplaces around the globe, we can readily see the negative results of diversity misunderstandings and mismanagement in the form of unnecessary tensions and underutilized talent. How managers and organizations handle diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plays a major role in their ability to attract and retain the best talent.
Ironically, there has never been easier access to factual information on diverse groups and research examples and findings on the benefits of carefully managed DEI. For example, after educating themselves on autism, Ernst & Young adapted their interview process to focus primarily on the unique problem-solving skills of job candidates on the spectrum. The pay-off was millions of dollars in company savings due to new algorithms to improve and automate processes by a specific group of employees that less sophisticated companies seldom hire.
Unfortunately, the availability and exposure to best practices does not automatically translate into changed attitudes, behavior, and policies in all organizations. Here is a simple first step for any employee who understands the importance of greater self-knowledge and preparing themselves for an increasingly diverse workplace:
Take the Global Competency Inventory (GCI) or the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES) and use the results to create a simple personal development plan (PDP) to improve yourself.
The GCI and its shorter version, the IES, were specifically designed to measure how well people are equipped to deal with differences. After creating and using these instruments with hundreds of thousands of people, the Kozai partners noticed the following phenomenon.
Regardless of the major focus of our workshops or courses, personal development plans based on the GCI or IES also resulted in greater understanding of diversity in general. As one U.S. black student reported, “I didn’t really understand until I took this course that not all white people are racists.”
We take an intercultural approach to diversity training that begins with understanding and respecting diverse groups as different cultures with unique histories. This basic understanding that evolves from learning that we cannot stereotype people from another culture if we want to be effective — readily translates to all the diverse groups within one’s own culture.
In addition, people gain a great deal of self-awareness from understanding their results on the many GCI or IES competencies that directly relate to diversity: nonjudgmentalness, inquisitiveness about people who are different, tolerance of ambiguity in diverse settings, cosmopolitanism, interest in developing and maintaining relationships with people who are different, self-awareness, emotional sensitivity, the willingness to code-switch to put others at ease, and, finally, optimism, self-efficacy, and the ability to handle stress in settings characterized by diversity.
The GCI and IES feedback reports include a well-tested personal development plan template and process that helps people improve whatever competency they deem most important. Research has found the use of this PDP process in combination with the Kozai instruments to be very effective.
No organization can afford the high cost of discrimination and talent drain in the workplace. And few employees can hope for the most successful career possible if they fail to develop the competencies needed for DEI and global interactions.