Diversity Dilemma – response

Hey man, great topic. I hesitate to identify myself as an expert in anything, especially a topic as big, complex and misunderstood as diversity, but thanks! One of the reasons that this is really a great topic is that diversity and inclusion work is at a place where it needs to move forward…and I believe a big part of the next step is “leaving the nest”, or moving away from the HR function.

Having said that, the important thing to keep in mind is that if an organization wants to benefit from the real value of diversity it has to make a legitimate investment of resources. Far too often organizations hire someone to “do diversity”, provide them with no real resources and become disappointed in a few months when the world has not been changed. Regardless of the structure, organizations need to legitimately support their D&I; efforts with financial capital, political and social capital if they are going to see real results.

Getting back to your main question…I think that HR has done a good job of giving D&I; work some support and resources, but I think that HR and D&I; can be far more valuable to each other moving forward as separate entities. Additionally:

  • HR has a great many things on its plate right now and does not have the capital to spare to fully support D&I; work the way that is needed right now
  • There is a false assumption in place that being an HR person means you “get diversity.”
  • A comprehensive D&I; effort involves many things not HR.

This last point may be the most important. Probably the best framework of competencies that I have come across was developed by The Conference Board in 2008. They brought together a group of thought leaders and developed a Competency Model for Diversity and Inclusion Practitioners. I have spent a great deal of time considering there model and I believe it is a great framework for successful D&I; work. Here are the competencies:

  1. Change Management
  2. Diversity, Inclusion, and Global Perspective
  3. Business Acumen
  4. Strategic External Relations
  5. Integrity
  6. Visionary and Strategic Leadership
  7. HR Competencies

I feel that with this set of competencies we start to gain an appreciation for the fact that a comprehensive approach to D&I; work includes many things outside of HR. There is marketing, communications, vendor relations, etc., that do not necessarily fit with HR work.

And again, I think that HR and D&I; are natural strategic partners and of more value to each other in the long run as separate entities. For what its worth.

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