Some managers may view diversity management as nothing more than compliance. However, as reported in the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs publication Diversity Australia, diversity can give you a competitive edge in the marketplace. The publication shows how two of Australia’s large organisations, AMP and Telstra, approach managing diversity.
One of the business imperatives for Telstra is to expand its operations and succeed internationally. To do this, Telstra reports that it is establishing a number of ‘Points of Presence’ overseas to assist with this international market expansion.
Telstra’s plan to make inroads into the Japanese telecommunications market resulted in Telstra establishing its Global Customer Centre. Telstra is looking to ‘draw on the language and cultural skills of workers in the centre’, to increase efficiency in how it connects and communicates with its overseas markets, significantly improving customer satisfaction with the level and quality of service they receive. Telstra’s capacity to compete globally can be significantly enhanced through the language and cultural diversity of its workforce.
Productive Diversity is part of the Commonwealth Government’s multicultural policy. Through effective diversity management practices, employers are able to optimise workplace innovation and performance, as well as build greater rapport with customers and suppliers. As stated in Diversity Australia, ‘Productive Diversity is good for business. It is also good for Australia as a whole’.
AMP is another large organisation that has entered into a ‘Productive Diversity Partnership Program’ with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affair (DIMIA).
DIMIA, in partnership with AMP, undertook a project to measure the return-on-investment potential of its diversity initiatives. AMP sought to measure the business benefits for its organisation in a number of ways. AMP analysed the changing demographic profile of the workforce to monitor the impact of its diversity initiatives. It measured employee perception of specific diversity related issues. To do this, AMP tracked the organisation’s effectiveness in responding to issues of discrimination, and by analysing customer needs and priorities.
Talking it over and thinking it through
As the examples of Telstra and AMP highlight, the benefits of managing diversity effectively are not social issues. Organisations are presented with a ‘golden opportunity’ to gain market advantage. Why do you think some organisations may not capitalise on such an opportunity?
How would you go about changing an organisation that has potential for benefitting from better management of its diverse workforce, but adopts the attitude that ‘that is for others, not us’?
The examples of Telstra and AMP are representative of large organisations. A very large portion of the Australian workforce works for small to medium-sized organisations. How would the managing of diversity effectively assist these types of organisation?
Should managers of organisations be trained in the effective management of diversity? Should it be part of the selection criteria that managers have a demonstrated ability to effectively manage diversity?