Recently, we discussed the topic of diversity during our Strategic Human Resources Management class, and we had diverse views on the topic. Specifically, we discussed if there should be quotas to help put more women into top management positions in Germany. The topic is very controversial and each of us had a strong opinion on whether or not quotas should be implemented.
In order to force us to think from another perspective, our professor asked everyone to start the discussion in a strange way. Everyone was asked to give reasons supporting the opinion they were against, instead of the one they agreed with. This exercise was both a challenging and funny. It also made us see things which we were reluctant to see just because we were so focused on our own opinion. Reflecting back on the class discussion and on general thoughts about diversity, I see three main reasons which can explain why diversity is becoming increasingly important, especially in big organizations and the developed world:
Diversity and Learning: Easier Problem-Solving
Diversity fosters learning and increases the probability of finding creative and better solutions for problems. This is one of the main reasons why top business schools have students from all over the world, with different backgrounds and both male and female. ESMT's full-time MBA program has 40 students with 24 nationalities who come from different educational and industrial backgrounds . This helps us to learn from each other. During class discussions there are so many diverse views and perspectives on the same issue that the number of possible solutions becomes much higher than it would be without so many different participants. This develops our imagination and creativity.
A Diverse Workforce Allows You to Reach More Customers
In an increasingly globalized world, many big companies target different customer groups who have different nationalities. That means that more businesses require a diverse workforce in order to understand all their customers and satisfy their needs. Thus, diversity can be a competitive advantage for the firm who has an ambitious goal of expanding its business worldwide. The absence of diversity, however, can be a serious drawback for the company targeting customers from many countries.
Diversity Makes You a Good Corporate Citizen
Many NGOs promote diversity by referring to fairness and equality for all people. This is one of the first things that often comes to mind of when we speak of diversity. In the developed world many organizations hire people of different nationalities in order to be good corporate citizens while demonstrating their commitment to protecting values such as fairness and equality.
In conclusion, I would like to say, that while diversity has many positive sides, if misused it can sometimes negatively impact a company. One example is when a company hires people just for the sake of diversity without paying more attention to individual characteristics and qualities of job applicants.
About Sona Rostomyan
Sona Rostomyan is a full-time MBA student at ESMT who was nominated as one of the Kofi Annan Fellows this year. Prior to joining ESMT as an MBA student, she started her career at one of the most rapidly growing banks in Armenia (Ameriabank CJSC) working first in the customer service department and then in the back office. She has more than 4 years experience in the banking industry (including customer transactions formalization, and account management). She enjoys solving mathematical puzzles, reading books and has a passion for photography.
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