Definition of Diversity Should Be Global, Expert Says

When organizations operate globally their must business leaders must ensure that their definition of diversity is global, rather than assuming that their world view applies to others.

5/17/2012 by Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.  (This article content was sent to you by: Barbara Romero, MBA)
When organizations operate globally they must ensure that their definition of diversity is global as well so that business leaders operate from the broadest possible perspective, rather than assuming that their world view applies to others.  
“A lot of this work starts with where you are,” said Pamela Culpepper, senior vice president, global diversity and inclusion officer, for PepsiCo, during a May 14, 2012, webinar.
“Separate your stuff from the stuff of the organization,” she advised during the session, titled “Expanding the Definition of Diversity” and hosted by EQ Mentor, a professional development company.
Culpepper explained that traditional definitions of diversity focus on the four circles of diversity model, popularized by Lee Gardenswartz and Anita Rowe, which places personality in the center, surrounded by three rings representing:
  • Internal dimensions of diversity, such as age, sexual orientation, race and gender. 
  • External dimensions of diversity, such as religion, marital status, income and educational background. 
  • Organizational dimensions of diversity, such as work location, function, seniority and management status. 
Organizations train and role-play using that model, she said, but often they have a hard time determining how various dimensions will impact the organization.  The definition of diversity becomes even more complex when organizations expand globally, because business leaders tend to filter diversity dimensions through an American definition of diversity, which focuses on race and gender. Thus, even when an organization explores the impact of religion around the world, she said, conversations are likely to focus on how women are treated in a particular religion rather than on the broader business impact of those religious beliefs on customer and employee behavior. (READ MORE)