A Diversity Manager or Culture Manager; What can they do for You and Your Organization?

The terms diversity manager and culture manager can often signify the same thing. Although culture manager can sometimes be used within the context of art and culture. In this article, I will use the two terms both interchangeably and within a business or work context. For a Wikipedia explanation, click here.

What is a Diversity Manager?

A diversity manager busies him or herself with managing the diversity within an organization (duh…). Diversity can be seen covering different causes. Here are a couple:

  • Cultural diversity (my main focus)
  • Ethnic diversity
  • Gender diversity
  • Age diversity (younger and older employees)
  • Educational diversity

With an increasing internationalization and/or globalization going on it makes sense to appoint a person that will handle the specific issues and clearly also problems that come with an increasingly diverse workforce.

Why Hire a Culture Manager?

Appointing a dedicated person to handle the issues that come up in a diverse workforce can be useful for a number of reasons. Let’s explore a couple:

  1. Diverse (culturally) teams, when managed well, perform better than non-diverse teams. This is true when it comes to effectiveness and efficiency. The tricky part is “…when managed well…“. And for that, you need a diversity manager.
  2. Diverse groups are more creative in finding solutions.
  3. They are better at effective problem solving and better decisions are being made by them than by their homogeneous counterparts.
  4. They can also involve the partner of the employee (under the motto: “Happy wife, happy life“); the most overlooked cause of expat failure is the fact that the employee’s partner can’t ground in the new country. Which is the main reason for people returning to their home country.
  5. Time and again, it’s been shown that a dedicated person who covers the international (cultural) aspects of work, will increase the level of retention of people working for an organization.
  6. They can be very cost-effective. Have a look at the following sample calculation:

Example*:

  1. An average IT-engineer earns about €5000 a month when starting in an organization;
  2. It takes her/him about 2 months to come fully up to speed on a complex project;
  3. That means that it costs a company €10,000 before there is any ROI;
  4. If you can shorten these 2 months to 1 month, that’s a huge gain;
  5. On the other side, if you can retain one individual 1-month longer (who otherwise would have left your company), you’re saving the company an easy €10,000 on not having to hire yet another person.

And this is an example pertaining only to one (!) individual…

  • Based on an IT company based in the Netherlands

Like this, even if the numbers are rough estimates, a diversity manager isn’t even a cost, but rather an investment.

What are the Tasks of a Diversity Manager?

Diversity manager and Culture Manager

There are quite a number of specific tasks that can be done by a culture manager. Think of the following:

1. Give Workshops

Typically give workshops on explaining the cultural differences when you’re working in an international environment. This will eliminate frustration with the new-comers and will make them more productive faster because of their increased cultural competence.

Next to regular workshops on cultural differences, he/she can also create and give a so-called “induction program” which will help the settling-in of the foreigners.

2. Coaching

Next to workshops, individual newcomers can be coached on a one-on-one basis. This can include their partners and possible children over the age of 12 (otherwise they’re too young to understand the theoretical framework I use). Or read this article on Cross-Cultural Coaching.

A culture manager can also be a go-to-person for the local people who are experiencing difficulty managing people from another culture. So in this way, the knife cuts both ways; for the newcomers and for the local people.

3. Culture Shock

A phenomenon that almost, if not everyone, goes through when coming to a new country (read more about what culture shock is here). If people are not made aware of this phenomenon, it can cause them to go through a really bad time, possibly even leading to depression, and leaving the job to go back to their home country.

A diversity manager can keep an eye on how people are doing and coach them through this temporary difficult period. A specific article about being an expat and typical expat health issues can be found here.

4. Trust

The diversity manager can be a person of trust when certain cultural or ethnic difficulties arise. Creating and maintaining trust is one of the most important aspects of effective cooperation across cultures. The trusted diversity manager can come up with solutions to problems and mediate, coach, or steer people towards a mutually satisfying solution.

5. Assist HR

I would say a diversity manager falls under the umbrella of HR. Given that, the diversity manager can assist other HR employees with developing proper inclusion guidelines that a company can use.

In addition, the culture manager can support HR in the recruiting process. Not only of foreigners but also for locals, to see if they culturally fit in the organization and if they display enough cultural sensitivity (skills can be learned, sensitivity is a lot more difficult to learn).

Thirdly, the inclusion manager (same function) can keep an eye on the legal aspects of policies and recruiting when it comes to internationalization.

Finally, (s)he can revise & update the website, Social Media channels, and job descriptions.

6. Diversity Manager Towards the Public

A culture manager should not only stay within the walls of the company building. Typically he/she can represent the company on (international) career and job events.

In addition to that, (s)he can scout potential new employees at universities or other professional institutions.

Given the fact that your diversity manager is culturally competent, (s)he can rapidly assess whether someone would be a good fit for the organization.

Conclusion

Globalization is unstoppable and with that come new challenges. Challenges that are specific to the nature of globalization, namely have a more and more diverse workplace.

A diversity manager or culture manager can be an asset for the company because (s)he can tackle the specific issues and problems that come with diversity. And all that in a very cost-effective way.

Contact me if you want to know what I can do for You and Your organization

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