I recently came across an article in the Portland Business Journal which highlighted Kaiser Permanente’s recruitment practices for building a talented and diverse workforce. You can link to the article here @pdxbizjournal.
After reading the Northwest regional diversity manager’s comment about its philosophy toward diversity I immediately remembered a term from my public relations course. Requisite Variety. This manager understands it fully. She says, “our organization needs to look like the communities where we are giving service”. Indeed this level of understanding moves beyond the traditional notion that hiring minorities such as African-Americans, or Hispanics creates a balanced diverse workforce. It does not. Companies such as Kaiser and the also mentioned Umpqua Bank which seek to hire people based on secondary dimensions of diversity are truly improving their work environment and benefiting customers.
These dimensions which include hometown, family history, and educational experiences are just as important to look at as gender and race. More female executives is fantastic, but bringing together people from different backgrounds and providing them opportunities to collaborate effectively should deliver the knowledge and understanding that takes a company from good to great.
Of course, teamwork fundamentals still exist and building a staff which works well together can be challenging when different lifestyles and beliefs intermix. However, the only way to move great ideas forward and be success is to overcome such obstacles and find commonalities to professionally serve customers better. *An added benefit to all this: happier employees.