Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Skill Deficiencies in Diversity and Inclusion in Organizations: Developing an Inclusion Skills Measurement

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Skill Deficiencies in Diversity and Inclusion in Organizations: Developing an Inclusion Skills Measurement

Article excerpt


The benefits of diversity in a global economy are well recognized (Allen, Dawson, Wheatley, & White, 2008). Managing a diverse workforce is acknowledged as a business imperative yet challenges continue to exist. In order to maximize and leverage the benefits of 21st century workplace diversity, companies spend time and resources on diversity training, even though the

outcomes are often less than desired (Chavez & Weisinger 2008). If the organizational goal of embedding an inclusive environment is at odds with the values, behaviors, attitudes and feelings of its employees, then the goal will not be fully achieved. Because organizational members might not recognize the impact they have on others, there is a need to build their toolkit of inter-cultural competence in order to insure an inclusive environment. Such knowledge is essential in today's organizations.

While there has been a focus on organizational policies and procedures regarding diversity, less time has been spent on the "norms and values" involved in creating inclusiveness (Pless & Maak, p. 129). Indeed barriers are often created that make inclusion difficult to achieve (Pless & Maak, 2004). Despite the move in the practitioner literature from diversity to inclusion, Roberson (2006) indicates that "there is a critical difference between merely having diversity in an organization's workforce and developing the organizational capacity to leverage diversity as a resource"(p. 234). Inclusion, as conceputalized by Roberson, is distinctly different from diversity. Diversity focuses on the makeup of the population or the demographics, while inclusion encompasses involvement, engagement, and "the integration of diversity into organizational processes" (p. 228). Chavez and Weisinger (2008) also recognize the distinct difference between diversity and inclusion and view inclusion as an "attitudinal and cultural transformation" (p. 331). Lieber (2008) also stresses the importance of creating a supportive environment that is not only diverse but also respectful and inclusive.

While it is imperative to understand attitudes and perceptions of diversity (DeMeuse & Hostager, 2001) the next step in organizational diversity competence is identification of skills gaps and remediation, thus enabling individuals, teams and organizations to enhance their competence in this area. In order to accomplish these organizational outcomes an Inclusion Skills Measurement Profile (ISM) has been developed and will be validated. The purpose of the instrument is to fill this gap with the view to provide organizations with the insight and tools necessary to move diversity to the next level. It will provide feedback in seven areas: diversity sensitivity, integrity with difference, interacting with difference, valuing difference, team inclusion, managing conflict over difference, and embedding inclusion. It is designed to enable individuals and organizations to recognize the skills necessary to embed an inclusive environment and to identify the skills gaps that need to be addressed in order to ensure a high level of success and competence. If individuals within the organization give lip service to the goal of inclusion, speak from a politically correct frame of reference and yet do nothing to enhance their awareness, knowledge and skills when dealing with difference, they will ultimately be unable to embed an inclusive environment. Complex systems are intricate and change only when positive influences occur at multiple levels. The seven categories address such complexity and affect the organization at different levels: intra-personal, inter-personal, group, and organizational. The skills components need to embed an inclusive environment in an organizational context.

The development and validation of a complete instrument for identifying skill dificiencies in diversity and inclusion will take place in two phases. Once the instrument has been validated in the self assessment process in Phase One, the instrument testing process will be expanded. …

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