Diversity in Response to Diversity
INTERVIEW EDGE • OCT 1991
Perhaps because we have the only program in the United States on how to interview a diverse workforce, we are seeing a range of response by corporate America to the issue of diversity. The first thing we notice is that organizational response falls along a continuum from no response to cutting edge development of new programs in this area.
At one end of the continuum, we have a client who is committed to training all their managers in diversity awareness. New policies are being developed, including one that extends medical coverage to partners of gay and lesbian employees, but not unmarried partners of heterosexual employees. The reason is that the latter group can marry to gain medical benefits whereas the former group cannot.
At the other end of the continuum are clients who are not impacted by the broad changes in the U.S. workforce. Much of this is regionally-based. One client has a production facility in the upper Midwest where there are only six minority individuals in the entire county.
Another client is looking at ways to actually measure diversity by using a sophisticated computer model created by an outside consultant who specializes in artificial intelligence. The program reveals communication networks and decision-making patterns in employee relationships. If African-American employees have their strongest networks only with other African-American employees, then their full potential is not being tapped within their work group The computer-based assessment provides management with a way to focus skills training and career development to improve the use of diverse workers and to move beyond just the numbers.
Other clients tell us of their interest in incorporating diversity into all their management training programs. We are helping some take a fresh look at training around traditional topics like delegation and performance appraisal.