Diversity Management

Diverse employees – diverse opportunities

Why is it now particularly important to bring people together beyond the boundaries of age, gender, religion and culture?

In an increasingly heterogeneous and globalized world, companies find themselves facing changed structures, methods and ways of working – in particular as a result of the far-reaching changes that the business world has been experiencing for years.

Keyword “demographic transformation”

For years, the German population has been ageing. At the same time, the birth rate is dropping – and with it the number of people potentially available to work. According to scientific estimates, in as early as 2025 German companies will be missing around 6.5 million people (see German Federal Employment Agency 2011). Particularly affected are knowledge-heavy sectors such as information and communication technology, and the financial and services sector.

So it’s more important than ever to find and retain young talent, but also to specifically support older employees, using their experience in meaningful ways. And to bring together a healthy mix of young and old in a working environment that is characterized by acceptance and mutual trust.

Keyword “digital transformation”

Digital technologies change the way we live and work – and at the same time create great challenges for companies. Because although these technologies are constantly becoming faster and more sophisticated, using them to develop innovative products and services requires people and methods who, in terms of potential, are as multi-layered as customer requirements in a globalized world.

What that means specifically: In order to strengthen innovation, companies now often turn increasingly to agile working methods – including design thinking. This is a method that encourages working in interdisciplinary teams in order to find creative solutions. To that end it draws together a variety of talents: employees who with their individual abilities, biographies and ways of thinking are able to find innovative answers to heterogeneous customer requirements.

A leadership culture of diversity

At the same time these methods require a new kind of leadership thinking, because the use of agile working methods entails flatter hierarchies and a greater amount of responsibility for teams and individuals. For managers that means learning how to handle the loss of control and greater tolerance for errors, thereby modelling agility in their own behavior. Not least, a leadership culture of diversity includes facilitating women’s access to leadership positions, thereby ensuring a healthier mix of male and female managers.

Conclusion: In the long term, the competitive advantage will belong to those companies which manage to bring together the multi-layered competence and potential of their employees in a constructive way and to foster a tolerant and respectful way of working together – leading their diverse teams toward more innovation and the pinnacle of success.

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