More Dimensions to Diversity

We begin to focus more on the collective mixture of differences and similarities, rather than on the differences themselves. The task of managing diversity is not only to address issues that have resulted in individuals being underutilized or excluded, but also to consider those who traditionally have been fully utilized and included. Managing diversity does not simply mean white males grappling with the opportunities and challenges of diversity. It also encompasses the incorporation of white male experiences along with those of other visible and invisible contributors to the diversity ‘stew’ into the mixture of similarities and differences that is known as today’s work force.

There are a number of guidelines for diversity, but a proposed one test that is controversial. It is called the “Special Consideration Test”.

The test consists of one question: Does this program, policy or principle give special consideration to one group? Will it contribute to everyone’s success, or will it only produce an advantage for blacks or whites or women or men? Is it designed for them as opposed to us? Whenever the answer is yes, you are not yet on the road to managing diversity.

A resources agent argues that such a test does not rule out addressing concerns that affect a particular group, but it asks that managers be sure that the concerns don’t affect other groups as well. For instance, a group of women managers might find a lack of mentors or role models in a company. To address this concern using the special Consideration Test, a manager would first check to be sure that a lack of mentoring is not a problem for other groups as well. Programs that give special consideration to one group do not really get at the real causes of prejudice and can in fact lead to more prejudice and inequality

Summarizing view of managing diversity in this way:

In a country seeking competitive advantage in a global economy, the goal of managing diversity is to develop our capacity to accept, incorporate and empower the diverse human talents of the most diverse nation on earth. It’s our reality. We need to make it our strength.

Making strength of diversity will be a necessity for the successful manager operating in the global economy in the next century. As managers think through these issues – the complex mosaic of culture and multiculturalism – they need to examine their own beliefs about diversity and whether or not affirming diversity can help them become more effective.

Education at the Heart:

The Body Shop as an extension of herself. She has built upon her own background and taken an approach that builds upon her strengths. I’ve just taken what every good teachers know, said Roddick, a former teacher herself. You try to make your classroom an enthralling place. When I taught history, I would put brilliant graphics all around the room and play music of the period we were studying. Kids could just get up, walk around and make notes from the presentation. It took me months to get it right, but it was stunning. Now, I’m doing the same thing. There is education in the shops. There are anecdotes right on the products, and anecdotes adhere. So I’ve really gone back to what I know how to do well.

Roddick places great emphasis on employee empowerment. Inasmuch as training is a prerequisite for empowerment, The Body Shop opened a training school in 1985. It features courses on employee relations, employment law, and time management. It was important to Roddick that the staff know more about The Body Shop products than the customers, and that they be able to answer all the questions, they hoped they would never be asked.

Unlike similar schools sponsored by other companies, The Body Shop’s schools accept anyone affiliated with the company including franchisees and their employee and students attend for free. However, people must be admitted, and currently the school is not able to meet the demand for its courses.

Roddick considers such an educational investment in the community to be integral. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance, she asserted. Education is at the very heart of The body Shop. We encourage the development of the human spirit as well as the mind. Whereas some companies “train for sale” at The Body Shop, according to Roddick, We train for knowledge.

This education and information serve to motivate The Body Shop employees. According to Roddick, they are much more motivated and they actually enjoy their jobs. We find that people who are not trained are less motivated in their jobs, which is why we place such a heavy emphasis on training. In addition Roddick said, we did not want our staff to stop learning just because they had started working.

Together, the company’s education and social activism have enabled Roddick to motivate employees beyond their own expectations. I would never get that kind of motivation if we were just selling shampoo and body lotion, said Roddick, I’d never get that sort of staying late, talking at McDonald’s after work, bonding to customers. It’s a way for people to bond to the company. They’re doing what I’m doing. They’re learning. Three years ago I didn’t know anything about the rain forest. Five years ago I didn’t know anything about the ozone layer. It’s a process of learning to be a global citizen. And what it produces is a sense of passion you simply won’t find a Bloomingdale’s department store.