What To Know About Representation In Hiring

representation in hiring diverse employees

What is representation? You’ve likely heard this term a lot in recent times as people have talked about increasing or improving representation of minorities in entertainment, business, and culture. What does it mean for your company? Representation is fancy for showing that a person can succeed in a given environment. 

When Barack Obama was elected President, he served as a model for the Black community that success was possible at the highest office in the government. When Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Bennet headlined in Agents of SHIELD, they served as examples to the Chinese-American female community that success was possible. When Ruby Rose headlined Batwoman, they showed that success for openly LGBTQ people was possible. 

Representation is a living case study. How many of us, when we evaluate vendors, ask for case studies? What are we saying when we ask for a case study? Show me that this has been done before. Show me that I can succeed. Show me that someone else has walked this path before me. Show me there is a process that leads to success. How much do we trust vendors who have no case studies, no testimonials? What happens to a vendor if we ask for references and we’re told, “Sorry, you can’t have any?” We walk away from that vendor, probably. We need examples of success to reassure ourselves and those we report to that success is possible. 

Talking about equality, about rights, about diversity and inclusion is nice and good. It’s important. But what happens when someone like me - a Korean-American - goes to your executive team page and I see no one who looks like me or has a similar background? Or none of your marketing materials shows anyone who looks even remotely like me? I see no case studies. I see no examples that I could succeed working at your company. 

In fact, I might even see that success isn’t possible even as a customer of your company. This is why every business needs representation. Every business needs case studies to show that success is possible for customers, for partners, for employees. If you believe in case studies, then extending that belief to representation should be fairly straightforward. When you don’t show key parts of the population case studies that success is possible, expect key parts of the population to not do business with you. 

Can you afford fewer customers? Can you afford decreased access to vital talent? If you can’t, it’s time to take a hard, cold look at your hiring, your marketing, your business and dramatically change how you work.

Organizations around the world has been realizing the cultural diversity within organization is not a negative aspect, rather can facilitate organizational stalk for glory. However it is not an easy task to manage employees with different cultural backgrounds. Nevertheless there are many policy guidelines that can make task easy. On a broader perspective, cultural diversity can be manage through communicating (creating awareness among all employees about diverse values of peers through communication), cultivating (facilitating acknowledgement, support and encouragement of any employee’ success by all other workers), and capitalizing (linking diversity to every business process and strategy such as succession planning, re-engineering, employee development, performance management and review, and reward systems) strategies. 

There are many different innovative ways that organizations have adopted to manage diversity. For instance Tabra Incorporation, a small manufacturer of jewelry and accessories in California comprised of modest workforce is composition of Third World immigrants from Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Laos, Mexico, Thailand, Tibet Vietnam and other nations. To acknowledge importance of their cultural association, at least 10-12 different flags are always hanged from the ceiling of its main production facility which represents the countries of origin of the employees. The  owner’s view point is ‘I would like for this to be a little United Nations everybody getting along and appreciating each other’s culture instead of just tolerating it’. If cultural diversity can be managed effectively, there is a potential to use diverse workforce for organizational benefits. 

Cox and Balke assert that multiculturism is directly linked to organizational success as Effectively managed multi culture companies have cost effective competitive edge It helps in promoting minority friendly reputation among prospective employees Diverse cultural corporations help to get better customers which has a variety of people Diverse group of employees are perceived to be more creative and efficient in problem solving as compared to homogenous group Ability to manage cultural diversity increases adaptability and flexibility of an organization to environmental changes. Many organizational examples can be taken in this regard. In Australia, for instance, Hotel Nikko in Sydney has unique edge that staff members in direct guest contact areas speak a total of 34 different languages. Similarly Qantas Flight Catering has sixty-six nationalities on staff, with various overseas-born chefs. So dedicated diverse ‘ethnic’ kitchens gave Qantas a huge competitive edge that offers food based on customer’s ethnic taste and requirements. Moreover Don’s Smallgoods says that through literacy, language and cultural training increased cross-cultural communication and increased profits while lowering costs at the same time. 

Similarly The Cheesecake Factory had put special effort to understand Japanese quality and packaging culture as Asian employees assist management to understand Asian tastes so that they can target exports to Asia. Hence the discussion suggests that it's essential to realize that cultural diversity should be taken as a tool for better organizational progress rather than a managerial problem and if effectively managed, it can be a key to gain competitive edge and success for your business team.

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