The End of Diversity As We Know It

Why Diversity Efforts Fail and How Leveraging Difference Can Succeed

Martin Davidson (Author)

Publication date: 12/05/2011

The End of Diversity As We Know It
Well-intentioned diversity programs are failing to create true workplace equality; Martin Davidson provides a new model for the future that makes "leveraging difference" a critical business strategy, not just politically correct window dressing.The idea for this book came to Martin Davidson during a disarmingly honest conversation with a CFO he worked with. “Look,” the executive said, clearly troubled. “I know we can get a diverse group of people around the table. But so what? What difference does it really make to getting bottom-line results?”

Answering the “so what?” led Davidson to explore the flaws in how companies typically manage diversity. They don't integrate diversity into their overall business strategy. They focus on differences that have little impact on their business. And often their diversity efforts end up hindering the professional development of the very people they were designed to help.

Davidson explains how what he calls Leveraging Difference™ turns persistent diversity problems into solutions that drive business results. Difference becomes a powerful source of sustainable competitive advantage instead of a distracting mandate handed down from HR.

To begin with, leaders must identify the differences most important to achieving organizational goals, even if the differences aren't the obvious ones. The second challenge is to help employees work together to understand the ways these differences matter to the business. Finally, leaders need to experiment with how to use these relevant differences to get things done. Davidson provides compelling examples of how organizations have tackled each of these challenges.

Ultimately this is a book about leadership. As with any other strategic imperative, leaders need to take an active role—drive rather than just delegate. Successfully leveraging difference can be what distinguishes an ordinary organization from an extraordinary one.
  • Offers an alternative that turns diversity from an organizational obligation to a source of innovation, energy, and commitment
  • Analyzes why existing diversity programs have failed to be sustainable or to contribute to the bottom-line success of the organization
  • Provides case examples from the authors research and global consulting practice

The idea for this book came to Martin Davidson during a disarmingly honest conversation with a CEO he worked with. Look, the executive said, clearly troubled. I know we can get a diverse group of people around the table. But so what? What difference does it really make to getting bottom-line results?

Answering the so what? led Davidson to explore more deeply how companies typically manage diversity. He saw there were serious problems. Companies werent effectively building diversity into their larger business strategy. Also, the emphasis on common differences like gender, age, race, and sexual orientation was interfering with the ability to identify less obvious differences that have more impact on a business. And traditional diversity efforts were often hindering the professional development of the very people they were designed to help.

In his book, Davidson explains how what he calls Leveraging Difference turns persistent diversity problems into solutions that drive business results. Difference becomes a powerful source of sustainable competitive advantage instead of a distracting mandate handed down from HR.

To leverage difference, Davidson argues, leaders must tackle three challenges. First, they must identify and hire for the differences most important to achieving organizational goals, even if the differences arent the obvious ones. Second, leaders must help employees work together to understand the ways these differences matter to the business. And finally, leaders must roll up their sleeves and experiment with how to use these relevant differences to get things done. Davidson provides several examples of how organizations leverage subtle differences like culture, thought, and personality as well as more noticeable differences like race and gender.

Ultimately this is a leadership book, not a diversity book. Actively leveraging difference, rather than reactively managing diversity, can be what distinguishes an ordinary organization from an extraordinary one.

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Book Details
Overview
Well-intentioned diversity programs are failing to create true workplace equality; Martin Davidson provides a new model for the future that makes "leveraging difference" a critical business strategy, not just politically correct window dressing.The idea for this book came to Martin Davidson during a disarmingly honest conversation with a CFO he worked with. “Look,” the executive said, clearly troubled. “I know we can get a diverse group of people around the table. But so what? What difference does it really make to getting bottom-line results?”

Answering the “so what?” led Davidson to explore the flaws in how companies typically manage diversity. They don't integrate diversity into their overall business strategy. They focus on differences that have little impact on their business. And often their diversity efforts end up hindering the professional development of the very people they were designed to help.

Davidson explains how what he calls Leveraging Difference™ turns persistent diversity problems into solutions that drive business results. Difference becomes a powerful source of sustainable competitive advantage instead of a distracting mandate handed down from HR.

To begin with, leaders must identify the differences most important to achieving organizational goals, even if the differences aren't the obvious ones. The second challenge is to help employees work together to understand the ways these differences matter to the business. Finally, leaders need to experiment with how to use these relevant differences to get things done. Davidson provides compelling examples of how organizations have tackled each of these challenges.

Ultimately this is a book about leadership. As with any other strategic imperative, leaders need to take an active role—drive rather than just delegate. Successfully leveraging difference can be what distinguishes an ordinary organization from an extraordinary one.
  • Offers an alternative that turns diversity from an organizational obligation to a source of innovation, energy, and commitment
  • Analyzes why existing diversity programs have failed to be sustainable or to contribute to the bottom-line success of the organization
  • Provides case examples from the authors research and global consulting practice

The idea for this book came to Martin Davidson during a disarmingly honest conversation with a CEO he worked with. Look, the executive said, clearly troubled. I know we can get a diverse group of people around the table. But so what? What difference does it really make to getting bottom-line results?

Answering the so what? led Davidson to explore more deeply how companies typically manage diversity. He saw there were serious problems. Companies werent effectively building diversity into their larger business strategy. Also, the emphasis on common differences like gender, age, race, and sexual orientation was interfering with the ability to identify less obvious differences that have more impact on a business. And traditional diversity efforts were often hindering the professional development of the very people they were designed to help.

In his book, Davidson explains how what he calls Leveraging Difference turns persistent diversity problems into solutions that drive business results. Difference becomes a powerful source of sustainable competitive advantage instead of a distracting mandate handed down from HR.

To leverage difference, Davidson argues, leaders must tackle three challenges. First, they must identify and hire for the differences most important to achieving organizational goals, even if the differences arent the obvious ones. Second, leaders must help employees work together to understand the ways these differences matter to the business. And finally, leaders must roll up their sleeves and experiment with how to use these relevant differences to get things done. Davidson provides several examples of how organizations leverage subtle differences like culture, thought, and personality as well as more noticeable differences like race and gender.

Ultimately this is a leadership book, not a diversity book. Actively leveraging difference, rather than reactively managing diversity, can be what distinguishes an ordinary organization from an extraordinary one.

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