Yes sorry, HR people!  Its true, Gender Diversity is NOT a Human Resources issue – it is an organisational opportunity!  Yes thats right folks, it is all about the opportunity of opening up your organisation to INNOVATION through DIVERSITY and GENDER BALANCE.  So often we think of diversity as just talking about women, but that is not the case.  Increasingly cultural diversity is the opportunity to reap the benefits of different perspectives, practices and culture.  Overlay this with gender balance and you get even more benefits.  A culture that embraces diversity will naturally be more attractive to women, and will most likely benefit your entire staff, the community and the environment as well.

Sure, it is complex, but thats where the real benefits are – in managing COMPLEXITY.  Imagine managers that are able to proactively manage across all aspects of a diverse environment.  Imagine the opportunities for your business.

So often when I speak to organisations about diversity and gender, and they say the same thing.  “We created a Diversity Council, and now we just don’t know where to go from here”.  Or, I get the comments that organisations have come to a standstill when it comes to increasing gender balance.  That’s often because they have diversity installed in the human resources area of the business, or are relying on HR professionals to solve the challenges of the whole organisation when it comes to the management of complextity.  We are taking the wrong approach to this challenge.  What is the first thing that gets done in terms of creating programs to attract and retain more women?  Generally a Business Case – what for?  A Business Case for Women?  No one creates a Business Case for Men to work in an organisation.  Think about it and that will go some way to uncovering the barriers to change. Change is being managed within the same old paradigms that created the ‘Business Case” in the first place.  A justification to spend or to commence an activity, but diversity should not need a justification.  Innovation doesn’t need to be justified when it happens, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  An environment that embraces and promotes an organisational capability of Innovation and Diversity has been created by the entire organisation.  Sure HR is involved and often a lead player, but unless the change in culture is embraced by senior management and promoted as the new culture, nothing will happen, or it won’t be sustainable.  Worse still, it may be seen as a failure and this is what is happening with many diversity programs. They start, they create the Diversity Council and then they stall.

The Diversity Program Review Framework, the DPRF can help your organisation to identify areas where innovation and performance can be improved by embracing diversity.  Many of the recommendations developed for organisations through this process are already paying dividends and giving those organisations a ‘competitive edge’.  This is a business opportunity, not a HR issue.

If you would like more information about the DPRF, and how your organisation can be assessed for a DPRF International Award, head to our website or contact me at susanne.moore@gendereconomics.org or gary.morgan@gendereconomics.org for more details.