Normally people feel comfortable when they are in the company of people who tend to think and act similar to themselves. The selection process when building teams is influenced by this aspect of human behaviour.
In the new millennium a paradigm shift is taking place: Integration, cooperation in a spirit of mutual respect and equal opportunity are in focus. Differences are specifically leveraged in order to drive companies and organisations forward.
Management is therefore confronted with the challenge of how to create conditions conducive to harnessing diversity for the betterment of all.
The concept of diversity promotes the identity and dignity of the individual and each cultural group, together with an appreciation for other cultures. The application of this concept is essential for people, who, when interacting with others from other cultures or of different ages, pursue the attainment of common goals.
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An increasing number of organisations have begun the process of opening themselves to the concept of diversity. In order to deal constructively with differences, capacities and skills are required, that must be developed first. Only then can an organization profit from diversity.
An essential component of Diversity Competence is the attitude towards being different. In any systematic development of Diversity Competence, this aspect cannot be ignored. For example, in the field of intercultural relations the question arises, whether workers embrace global interdependencies for the betterment of the organization based on a cosmopolitan view or whether they consider it as part of a forced globalization process and act accordingly in no more than a politically correct fashion.
DeT&S seminars begin by focussing on the attitudes of people. Working interactively, we learn, that taking on a diversity oriented attitude does not mean to give up one's own identity. We identify the capabilities and skills which are required in the successful application of diversity competence.
Strategic diversity management can be applied to a much greater degree when diversity competence is established.
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One of the decisive factors in the success of any diversity oriented organisational and resource development is the balance between diversity and conformity. Characteristics of diversity include individuality, creativity and being different. Some characteristics of conformity are uniformity and adaptation. An organisation that overemphasizes diversity may find that it damages its cohesiveness. If conformity dominates in an organisation, uniqueness and its inherent potential for innovation will be repressed which has a negative impact as well.
How much individuality should be allowed, so that the system does not break down, yet how far should the demand to conform go, so that individuality does not suffer? This is the question that arises for civil servants in the public sector, who not only have to act as a service provider to citizens but also represent state authority. This challenge is faced in the corporate world as well.
DeT&S cultivates an understanding for this balance, that provides orientation and confidence in decision-making and action. We work out where a minimum of conformity is required to provide the essential cohesiveness in the organization, and where diversity can thrive in order to drive the organization forward.
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The central idea of diversity management today is to recognize and respect differences and then to proactively use them. Management now faces the challenge of creating an environment where diversity can thrive.
To be different often meant to also have shortfalls. Diversity management as a new paradigm, however, means to see diversity as an opportunity. Employers promote pluralism, support the reduction of prejudice and stereotyping, and assist in building a network of connections across the organization. Thus, over time, a new climate of learning begins to take shape.
DeT&S takes account of the impact of both aspects of diversity management:
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