Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Inclusion Skills Measurement Profile: Validating an Assessment for Identification of Skill Deficiencies in Diversity and Inclusion

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Inclusion Skills Measurement Profile: Validating an Assessment for Identification of Skill Deficiencies in Diversity and Inclusion

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The U. S. Census Bureau expects that the United States will not be a Caucasian dominated country by 2050. These shifting demographics emphasize the business imperative for moving past diversity management to inclusion in order to be competitive in the global economy. A diverse organization realizes benefits from its ability to retain talent, to be in tune with market conditions, to work creatively and to innovate; such capabilities may be related to enhanced performance (Allen, Dawson, Wheatley, & White, 2008). Even though the imperative is recognized and desirable, in reality companies spend money and time on training for diversity, yet the organizational outcomes are less than expected (Chavez & Weisinger 2008). According to Sayed and Kramar (2009) both affirmative action and diversity management have fallen short of their objectives; if the broader benefits of diversity can be achieved, it will only happen with a multilevel approach to diversity. This multilevel approach will include not only the national, but also the organizational and individual levels.

Policies and procedures related to diversity have previously been the focus of many workplace diversity initiatives, yet less time is spent on the "norms and values" that can assist in embedding inclusiveness in the organization (Pless & Maak, p. 129) The Inclusion Skills Measurement (ISM) Profile was designed to assist in recognizing the skills gaps that exist in organizational members; such gaps must be recognized and addressed if inclusion is to be successfully embedded within organizations. The instrument consists of seven scales each of which addresses an aspect of inclusion. The first phase of the validation of the instrument is described below and further research is proposed.

JUSTIFICATION FOR THE STUDY

Corporations spend millions of dollars every year training their employees to drive behavioral change. Employees are told in a myriad of ways what behavior is expected of them, from technical, professional and soft skills perspectives. Everything from policies and procedures, employee handbooks, management directives, training programs etc. are designed to ensure employees integrate the messages of the corporate culture and behave accordingly.

Appropriate behavior is therefore an implicit and explicit part of the employer/employee contract. When addressing the subject of global inclusion and diversity however, the result of this training investment is often compliance and political correctness rather than true commitment to behavior change. There is not always congruence between an individual's values and beliefs and the behaviors they are being asked to demonstrate at work. For example, on the subject of sexual orientation it is quite common to hear people speak of their religious values and beliefs and their discomfort at being asked to "accept" openly gay people in the workplace. They will default to a reluctant acceptance that the company requires them to behave appropriately while insisting that they will not change their values or beliefs on the topic. While it may not be possible to change a person's values it is however imperative that individuals seeking to change the organizational culture and embed inclusion in their organizations more fully understand the values and beliefs that are at the root of any resistance to change.

The ISM profile seeks to explore values, beliefs and behaviors and to raise to consciousness some of the more hidden challenges. The ISM Profile has a balance of items addressing both topics. Based on the literature we propose the following assumptions:

Assumption 1

   Individuals have skills gaps in their diversity awareness,
   sensitivity and interpersonal skills of which they may or may not
   be aware.

Individual behaviors have significant impact on the perception of an inclusive environment. Employees who are not consciously aware of their diversity competences are capable of saying or doing something that will negatively impact the work environment. …

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