Diversity, Management and Communications

All views represented here are personal views [Prabhjit Kaur]

Firstly, I would like to share my heartfelt condolences with those that have recently fallen victim of a horrific attack, which took place yesterday on vulnerable Sikhs, in Wisconsin (US). This has been a trigger for my blog today. I hope we will have some healthy discussion from colleagues with a passion on making a difference and diversity.

In the UK, there has been much debate on forced marriages, social integration and honour killings. The key factor resonating in all discussions is diversity.

In the Wisconsin (US) scenario, how was information shared publically by the media channel?

In short, rather badly; as I flinched at the twitter feeds of what was reportedly said and the live coverage.

An attempt was made by a media channel to provide live breaking updates on the incident. Unfortunately, key information about the ethnic minority community was misrepresented by reporters. You can argue they were delivering news on scene as it happens so would not have facts at hand. However, this is a classic case of how not to report or communicate important information. Mends were subsequently made, but not without the annoyance of South Asian community, and professionals across the world.

How does this reflect on a business, if the same were true?

Translating this for business: Management and Communications. The example has synergy and lessons that can be shared on reflection. Here are just some key points:

In short, an organisation that has not engaged a diversity & inclusion policy let alone implement it. A poorly run organisation that has no idea of employee representation, acknowledgement or input to organisation vision or goals.

Poor communication strategy and implementation.

Poor PR, media updates, results in organisation brand and reputation being damaged. Reputation is the key to the success for any business and it doesn’t come easily. Hard graft and years on business and customer relationship building – wasted. More time and resources being spent to manage reputation and damage limitation, let alone damage litigation and extensive employment tribunal cases.

Best organisational diversity and inclusion practice

For the UK, it is so much more than just updating HR policies and practice based on The Equality Act 2010 and protected characteristics. Organisations need to be seen to be inclusive i.e. more than just Investors in People. A closer look at how diversity is being managed across the organisation. Thought provoking questions on the management of diversity.

How are organisations being inclusive and representative of the communities they represent?

Is the Diversity Agenda current and reflective within induction and staff development practices?

Are recruitment practices reflecting thorough workforce planning methodology, i.e. active recruitment from diverse sector talent? (I am not alluding to affirmative action as this is unlawful practice). Or is current practice just recruiting to ageing job descriptions and confirmation that you are an ‘equal opportunities employer’?

How transparent are your recruitment, retention and progression practices?

What HR measures do organisations have in place to challenge discrimination: assumptions, stereotypes and prejudice?

Do you have a specific and current Diversity Audit? How is this evaluated and over what time period? How are actions implemented organisationally from findings? Do you have action plans implemented, that can be reviewed and audited?

Healthy organisation-wide communications are key to prevention and resolve

There has been healthy debate and confrontation from professionals globally, on the incidence, which has put diversity on high profile. Thanks to social media, there has been healthy discussion on the terminology used, lack of awareness of ethnic input and values, and stereotyping, prejudice still relevant today. It is until this is challenged effectively and appropriately, can this be a lesson shared and learnt, organisationally.

Thorough research, appointing ethnic champions and opportunities to learn about diverse representation. This is not just business focussed activity, but can be adopted by any organisations, be it schools, voluntary, public or private sector.

Tolerating inexcusable prejudice is no longer an option, nor is silence for fear of making communication mistakes, mindful over political correctness.

Benefits to organisations

If actively managed, organisations reap so many benefits.

  • Embracing diversity creates innovation opportunities beyond imagination
  • Supporting talent, skills and diversity provides a business competitive edge
  • ‘Authentic Leadership Skills’ builds trust and encourages better working relationships and empowering teams
  • Engaged workforce magnifies positive results on bottom line, productivity and quality
  • Minimising damage litigation claims, loss in customer confidence and thereby protecting company brand and reputation

In summary, managing diversity need not be difficult if managed proactively, consistently and transparently. The media channel offered a great opportunity and example on how communications can go wrong. Having said this, they were quick to rectify misunderstandings and Sikhs managed to get great profile on the religion, culture and values. This could have been best avoided – a high profile following significant family loss and heartache wasn’t necessary and could have been prevented through wider national policy, prevention actions and measures on diversity and education.

Having worked in diverse sectors, there are excellent examples of organisational diversity programmes and benefits, which can be contextualised and implemented, to suit your organisation.

So how have US officials communicated condolences and disappointment? An example of perfect communication. This is what should have been shared after careful consideration.

“President Obama: “As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.”

The US embassy in India said it was “deeply saddened by the senseless loss of lives and injuries” caused by the shooting.

“Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the victims and their families,” a statement said.

“The United States takes very seriously the responsibility to respect and protect people of all faiths. Religious freedom and religious tolerance are fundamental pillars of US society.””

Excerpt and further details on the attack are available on the bbc.co.uk website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19143281

For credibility, the views are represented here following my personal input as:

Active Third Sector Involvement. Examples include:

  • Former Trustee, Board Member and Chair for HomeStart (County Borough of Wrexham); Member of the Policy Forum – UK
  • Former Trustee, Board Member for Hope House Children’s Hospice; Member of the Trading, Investments, Fundraising and Personnel Committees
  • Former Trustee, Board Member for Welsh Women’s Aid; Member of the Personnel Committee and Governance Committee

Suuporting Recognised National Diversity Programmes. Examples include:

  • Recording Police Stops: Home Office Pilot with North Wales Police – Diverse Communities Consultant Member of the IAG committee and Diversity Audit Committee – North Wales Police Headquarters
  • North Wales Police – Member of Eastern Division Diversity Group. Ethnic and Culture Advisory Group
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