Anita Rowe, Ph.D., Partner, Gardenswartz & Rowe and Emotional Intelligence and Diversity Institute
Transformational Diversity turns the kaleidoscope to bring another way to view and address diversity in corporations. It presents an approach that focuses on inclusion rather than the more traditional differences and applies the paradigm and methodology of intercultural competency to help organizations leverage diversity as an asset. The premise of the book is that by emphasizing intercultural competencies, organizations can transform their cultures and capitalize on diversity as a business advantage. The authors first explain why the current domestic diversity models and approaches are not sufficient to meet the inclusion needs of today’s global and multicultural corporations and then go on to show how Transformational Diversity can help. Aimed at a corporate audience, their focus is a pragmatic, business-oriented one that uses corporate examples, language and statistics to demonstrate the strategic case for inclusion, including contemporary issues such as social responsibility and downsizing/layoffs. For readers looking for answers to why regarding diversity and inclusion, this aspect is particularly helpful
One of the strengths of the Transformational Diversity approach is that it is based on four key areas that serve to focus the transformational work:
1. stressing values which drive differences in behavior
2. focusing on differences of relevance and consequence
3. aligning domestic diversity with a global perspective
4. developing intercultural sensitivity organization-wide
These four provide a needed focus in diversity and inclusion work and help prevent the scattered approach that sometimes characterizes diversity implementation.
Another strength is that Transformational Diversity provides a framework for integrating diversity into multiple organizational structures and functions, from Global Mobility and Talent Management to Sales and Marketing. This makes diversity and inclusion not just a part of the HR function, where it is often located, but a strategic business aspect impacting key aspects of organizational operation.
The authors then present the How of Transformational Diversity using a series of templates or, they are called in the book, archetypes for change. These detailed outlines of training and development sessions present rich content and relevant concepts for educating leaders and employees at all levels about multiple aspects of diversity and intercultural competencies. However, the changes represented in these archetypes remain in the realm of training and development. This is an area where the book could provide more direction and help. While training and development is a necessary aspect of culture change, it alone is not sufficient to bring about that change. The awareness, knowledge and skills gained through the series of training processes outlined can create a strong foundation of understanding. However, what is then needed are clear steps for how to make the systemic organizational changes required to carry out the real cultural transformation needed for inclusion.
While aimed at corporate leaders, the Transformational Diversity approach also has much relevance for organizations in other sectors of the economy such as education, health care, government and non-profit. It gives HR and Diversity professionals as well as other leaders, valuable information for strategizing about how to transform their cultures to leverage diversity for the benefit of their organizations.
Dianne Hofner Saphiere, founder, www.CulturalDetective.com
This book had me at the title. We all work with people who are different from us in gender, age, function, ethnicity, nationality, intellectual orientation or religious tradition. Many of us have also been involved in mergers and acquisitions that join two or more organizational cultures. We have a wealth of diverse human talent to draw upon to penetrate new markets and creatively solve problems, but how do we do so?
Books like this one, a compendium of the latest thinking along with sample designs and resources, are gifts. Such compendia guide the responsible practitioner through the maze of information available on the topic, highlight for the reader what is most accurate or valuable, and ideally teach us where to turn for further learning. They help us take stock of where we are as a field, where we should be going, and the latest best practice for how to get there. This book does that in a no-nonsense, practical, and brief manner (131 pages plus appendices and bibliography).The “new imperatives” that the authors cite are real and pressing. They include the need to:
• Compete worldwide for the best talent,
• Develop global workforce initiatives,
• Coordinate all domestic efforts with an increasingly multicultural workforce,
• Have diversity contribute more visibly to performance and the bottom line, and
• Organize inclusion-oriented systematic education for all populations (p. 6).
Transformational Diversity aims to take diversity programming “beyond race and gender” (p. 1) to “more effectively enhance productivity and performance” (p. 3). The authors tell us, “Transformational Diversity is a call for change in current diversity and inclusion programs, which in our experience seems [sic] to be struggling from fatigue and from challenges to produce measurable results,” (p. 5).
What does the book have going for it?
What most stood out for me is that they give voice, or, rather, print, to many of the things leading global D&I practitioners have been saying over the past decade. This is quite valuable. Just a few examples:
1. The fact that organizations hire “diversity” and then proceed to erase it by teaching new hires to fit in (p. 10).
2. The fact that so much diversity programming is U.S.-centric (p. 13), that U.S. diversity models have “historically been grounded in… government requirements and moral ground to redress past injustices and discrimination patterns” (p. 9), and that these rarely translate well overseas.
3. That affinity groups have gravitated towards social and celebratory roles, when their real value is in education: “to make known any differences represented by the individuals within the groups so that the differences can be respected, and thus, accepted” (p. 76).
4. The fact that understanding the dimensions of culture is not enough. “We do not have to choose between individual and group performance but instead make sure that the relationship between them becomes meaningful in the workplace” (p. 91).
The authors share numerous helpful examples and stories. They cite several research studies and reference statistics, which is another plus. Their approach is always practical, such as their three steps for rolling out Transformational Diversity (pp. 38-42) or their guidance for “Exporting U.S. Diversity Programs” (pp. 68-70). Many readers will find incredible value in the six programming templates (the authors call them “Archetypes”) the authors provide (Chapter 5).
This book is a rich resource, and I highly recommend it for all of the above reasons. The authors do a commendable job communicating basic intercultural concepts to the diversity practitioner, with advice such as helping practitioners learn to see our own cultural biases (pp. 112-114).
What else would I have liked to see in this book? Adding anything would have increased the volume and complexity, and one of the most terrific things about the book is its brevity and no-nonsense approach. But, with that qualifier, I felt many of the sample solutions were still heavily knowledge-focused rather than competence-building. This would seem to me a sign of the difficulty of breaking through to new paradigms from the old. The designs in the book are excellent, and with a bit more explanation they may center on skill development, but that fact did not show through as much as I would have liked.
Secondly, as an organizational development practitioner, I was very happy to read the authors’ cautions to embed change in the organization itself (p. 73). However, the importance of building organizational structures and systems to support Transformational Diversity seemed to be under-emphasized,. The six Archetypes the authors present, though they include one on coaching, seem to focus primarily on training. What about incorporating these new commitments and capacities into our hiring, promotion, and review processes, as well as into project management and other on-the-job activities? That is my bias, of course, and no book can do it all. This one is definitely worth the read.
Lara Hartman, Manager, HR Information Systems, HR Dynamics, Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
The Reader’s Guide
The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to update your diversity training program to include practical tools that produce measurable, bottom-line results and, in turn, teach intercultural business competence and help employees understand that differences often stem from value systems. The value of inclusion will become part of the organizational culture, improving performance and morale. This may seem like an impossible task, but Fiona Citkin and Lynda Spielman are here to help with their new, scholarly book, Transformational Diversity: Why and How Intercultural Competencies Can Help Organizations to Survive and Thrive.The book provides practical advice on developing the next generation of diversity training. Traditional diversity training concentrates on differences, usually race and gender. Transformational Diversity picks up where traditional or “old” diversity training stops, and stresses inclusion by teaching intercultural competencies and shifting to a global perspective—even for domestic organizations.
A global perspective is increasingly important for all US organizations because of large immigrant and expatriate populations, and is particularly relevant to New York-based organizations because of our naturally diverse workforce. Intercultural competence, the ability to communicate amid cultural difference and conflict in a constructive manner and to adapt as appropriate, improves performance for employees, teams, and organizations. This improved communication is the key to inclusive leadership.
“To be an inclusive, global leader,” the authors note, “one has to learn and understand how to motivate an increasingly diverse workforce, which is impossible without culturally sensitive communication.”
The most valuable resource provided in Transformational Diversity is the toolbox of six “Action Archetypes.” These provide a customizable roadmap for assessing and developing transformational diversity training, no matter where your organization is with its diversity training. The next generation of diversity training is here. Are you ready to transform your organization?
Published at http://www.hrny.org/newsletters/feb2012.pdf
Kate Berardo, Founder, www.Culturosity.com
The premise of Transformational Diversity is powerful: organizations need to revamp diversity programs to incorporate and emphasize intercultural competencies. Citkin and Spielman make the case that this will result in more inclusive, more profitable organizations and is needed to enable the next generation of diversity work within the US. What makes their premise so powerful, in my opinion, are two aspects in particular. One, they speak corporate speak—in a good way. The talk about return-on-investment, quote individuals like Yahoo! ex-CEO Carol Bartz, cite studies by McKinsey, and link the subject matter to global corporate strategy. These authors know their primary audience and speak appropriately to them. Too often, we practitioners and academics use language that is inaccessible to those we are speaking to, building barriers rather than bridges to true understanding and partnership.
Two, they had the courage to tackle the subject of the relationship between diversity and intercultural competence. These are two areas which have always been connected, though sometimes loosely and awkwardly. They are also two areas that historically have often been in competition for the same organizational development budget. This allows for a more integrated approach to true transformational diversity. .........
Transformational Diversity is written primarily for HR and diversity leaders, and provides a clear step-by-step path for them to start rethinking and reinvigorating diversity programs.