Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Implementing Diversity" -by Seth Naicker

Implementing Diversity (Marilyn Loden, 1996) is a valuable resource and handbook for implementing diversity and building inclusive work place culture, which calls the reader to go beyond just light reading, or even in depth study. It calls the reader to action and pursuit of a ‘….vision that must be fulfilled and a goal that must be accomplished. For those of us who welcome change, it is now time to plot a course that will help assure ultimate success” (Loden, 1996, p.x).

Loden is clearly writing from a visionary standpoint, which in the light of current world circumstances, one may be prone to proclaim that Loden’s visionary call out, has been achieved in the political life of America due to president elect Barack Obama. The Obama factor is symbolic of success, but exclusive and power base cultures of dominance go far beyond race and ethnicity. Therefore as much as diversity is being enhanced in global trends, we must ensure that diversity work is authentic and not just a negotiated settlement of compromise. The work of diversity must go beyond the colorizing game.Diversity implementation must grapple with creating a culture of inclusivity, where diversity reaches the heart, the mind and spirit of people, where the separation gap between the I and the other is continually shrinking.

I have been apart of, seen and witnessed people who are passionate about the implementation of diversity, end up being in conflict and distress with each other, based upon their different approaches to implementing diversity, and a culture of inclusivity. I am of the viewpoint that organizations, people and departments designated or charged by an organization to manage diversity implementation, must seek to work in collaboration with several departments within the organization without always the visible the lead role. Instead the work of managing diversity implementation becomes the work of support and encouragement of people and offices going about implementing diversity in their segmented and unique ways. Diversity implementation is therefore encouraged by casting the vision and allowing people to realize the dream!

Loden (1996) in providing concluding remarks explains,
“It simply means that diversity implementation must become more segmented and experimental as opposed to one-size-fits-all. Instead of benchmarking and reinventing a status quo implementers need the skills, insights, and, at times, the counsel of professional consultants required to customize implementation for the particular needs of their organization and the diverse needs of each segment” (1996, p. 178).
I agree with Loden that implementing diversity cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. I recognize organizations having need for cohesion, but over application of cohesion will ultimately result in the creation of another status quo.

Loden (1996) explains, “Instead of “doing to others as you would have them do unto you,” we must now develop the understanding and empathy required to truly know others. With this greater knowledge, we can then “treat others as they would have us treat them” (1996, p. 179). People and offices who are responsible for managing and directing diversity implementation must seek to treat others as they would have you treat them, especially in allowing autonomy and a diversity of approaches to achieving organizational cultural change.

Take an office like Human Resources for e.g., which may be responsible for tracking diversity learning and the creation of a culture of inclusivity within an organization, they should seek to capture different efforts at different strata in the organization. The key is to bring these segmented efforts together by drafting and capturing a segmented approach that ultimately mobilizes and demonstrates how the implementation of diversity and change in organizational culture is taking place, through individual efforts which affect a communal purpose.

In words of Teton Sioux, " ...I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself," (Native American Wisdom, Running Press, p. 51), I am mindful about going about the work of implementing diversity in the spirit of remembering where it is that I come from, and choosing to embrace and live for the inclusivity and diversity, justice and reconciliation, where ever it is that I will go!

Blessings and 'alutta continua', "la lucha continua," the struggle continues. Shalom, Shanti, La Paz sea contigo, As-Salamu'Alaykum - Peace be upon you!

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