Diversity management: variety is the future

For SMEs, diversity management is a clever tool with which to confront demographic change, find specialists and boost knowledge.

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Table of Contents
Demographic change, globalisation, more people from different cultures within a company: this is the context that SMEs have to consider today. As a part of HR management, diversity management aims to use the varied expertise of employees to the company’s advantage.

Diversity in the workplace – recognising and appreciating people in all their diversity – not only has a positive effect on any company, but also on economic success.

Definition: what exactly is diversity management?

Diversity management is a part of HR management and, on the one hand, manages variety within the workforce. On the other hand, implementation of the subject ensures that the various requirements of employees, customers and business partners are recognised and appreciated.

Central idea: the range of various abilities, talents and genders opens up innovative and creative solutions. Diversity management, inclusion and equal opportunity thus serve the purpose and strategy of using diverse capabilities and backgrounds of employees to the company’s advantage. This way, inclusive management enables for example employees with disabilities to contribute to a better customer experience.

Impressed by the positive impact, more than twenty European countries have formed a large network: under the umbrella of the “Diversity Charter”, various initiatives, organisations and businesses are operating across Europe to recognise, manage and use existing resources of diversity.

Who is talking:

Jérôme-Etienne Zastrow, Head of Portfolio Extension, Digital Workplace Unit R&D at Konica Minolta

“I think diversity is very important within a team because it ensures that not everyone thinks the same way. Diversity brings people out of their comfort zones and carries projects forward optimally.”

What opportunities does the subject of diversity management in the workplace offer for SMEs?

For SMEs, diversity management is an effective resource to confront challenges such as social and demographic change or an increasing need for specialists. Diversity managers recognise various talents and understand the multiplicity of life phases and biographies within their diverse workforce. This helps to boost experience and knowledge, as well as mutual acceptance and trust. When hiring new personnel, managers can identify certain traits and resources of candidates to promote workplace diversity and inclusion.

Thanks to wide-ranging intercultural experience within a company, new markets, for example, can be tapped. Products can be offered to international markets in a more targeted way if various customer groups can be addressed more effectively.

How does Konica Minolta manage diversity within its own company?

“Those wishing to be innovative today have to position themselves extremely internationally,” says Jérôme-Etienne Zastrow, Head of Portfolio Extension, Digital Workplace Unit R&D at Konica Minolta. “Cultural diversity is important within a team because diversity, among other things, ensures that not everyone thinks the same way. Different perspectives carry projects forward optimally. Diversity brings people out of their comfort zones and results in creative traction.”

Diversity in the workplace: from side by side to real togetherness

Working with employees from diverse cultures within an organisation or a development team is a thrilling experience. Since 2017, Konica Minolta has been offering so-called young potentials – employees aged from their mid-20s to their mid-30s – a global trainee programme. With the “Overseas Assignee Program”, Japanese colleagues regularly come to Europe for six months.

At workplaces such as London, Frankfurt and Brno in the Czech Republic, they learn how work processes and decisions are managed in Europe. They record their experiences in regular reports. The result is an intensive cultural and content-related exchange. “It is striking to see how, from initially working side by side, communication creates a real sense of togetherness,” reports Jérôme-Etienne Zastrow. He believes: “Today, diversity is indispensable above all in research departments and internationally active companies.”

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