Building an Inclusive Diversity Culture - Principles, Processes and Practice

In management theory and business practice, the dealing with diversity, especially a diverse workforce, has played a prominent role in recent years. In a globalizing economy companies recognized potential benefits of a multicultural workforce and tried to create more inclusive work environments. However, "many organizations have been disappointed with the results they have achieved in their efforts to meet the diversity challenge" [Cox: 2001, Creating the Multicultural Organization (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco)].

by , Thomas Maak,Nicola Pless

In management theory and business practice, the dealing with diversity, especially a diverse workforce, has played a prominent role in recent years. In a globalizing economy companies recognized potential benefits of a multicultural workforce and tried to create more inclusive work environments. However, "many organizations have been disappointed with the results they have achieved in their efforts to meet the diversity challenge" [Cox: 2001, Creating the Multicultural Organization (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco)].

Professors Thomas Maak and Nicola Pless see the reason for this in the fact that while much attention has been paid to the strategic dimension of diversity policies, systems, and processes, much less thought has been given to the normative dimension, the norms and values involved. Given the fact that diversity is essentially about cultural norms and values, appropriate reflection work becomes a fundamental task to create a truly inclusive work environment where people from diverse backgrounds feel respected and recognized.

Therefore, the authors focus in this article - Building an Inclusive Diversity Culture, published in October of 2004 in the Journal of Business Ethics - on the challenge of building an inclusive diversity culture showing that such a "culture of inclusion" has to be built on solid moral grounds. We present a conceptual framework of inclusion based on a moral theory of recognition and introduce the founding principles of reciprocal understanding, standpoint plurality and mutual enabling, trust and integrity.

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