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Promoting Diversity - more than an end to discrimination

April 2011
The idea of diversity – that of diversity management – is becoming a stronger part of man's awareness. The impetus is that discrimination is no longer tolerated – whether due to legal statutes that punish discriminatory acts, or simply due to the attitude and good will to enforce fundamental values such as the equality of all people which includes equal opportunity. To date in Germany, laws such as .....

.....the General Equal Opportunity Law (AGG), are drawn upon in discrimination cases before courts.  This is a reactive use of the AGG , although law-makers made it clear that preventive measures, such as training for employees, should be taken, in order to prevent the feared disadvantaging of individuals based upon the discrimination criteria.

Despite this, the question is yet unanswered as to how an organization can work in a discrimination-free manner. What should the results of all the anti-discrimination activities running under the banner of diversity look like? What are we working towards? Are we not missing a vision, that we can and should proactively work towards? Unfortunately, one is often belittled by critics as soon the word „vision“ is used, since it sometimes actually does describe dreamy, unrealistic visions. Yet, does not the leadership of any successful company first define a vision for itself, in order to  move the organization forward?

A vision is a desirable, realistic picture of the future that is at first characterized by a  somewhat blurred outline and which can only be achieved with effort. For instance, one could ask the question: What will happen in our organization in x years? What will it look like in x years? Once there is an agreement upon the vision, the real hard work begins in defining goals that is approached with positive attitudes and measures, taking into account all relevant factors.

If women, the handicapped, or people with a foreign background are specifically supported, is this done as an end in itself? Is not their advancement promoted, so that all members of society can be part of good, profitable and successful cooperation? This would be an example of a vision, a perspective for the future, that supporters of diversity should develop and implement in the diverse areas with
a positive attitude.
Only fighting symptoms, preventing the discrimination of specific groups of people, will not be enough in the long-term in order to establish strong diversity management in a sustainable organization and capitalize on the potential of diversity to its fullest. Cultivating discrimination-free relationships between people and being able to profit from the diversity of culture and thinking patterns requires new skill sets, which is inherent in the development of Diversity Competence.
It is not about counteracting the bad, but to work toward shaping the good in a constructive manner.

Which vision of Diversity do you have?


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