Diversity

first_imgAs a career option within HR, it doesn’t come much tougher than diversity.”You’ve got to be sensitive and able to empathise with people, but you’vealso got to be prepared to be bashed and bruised,” says CIPD diversityadviser Dianah Worman. “You have to be resilient and have the resolve tobe a strategist and prioritise.” The role of diversity manager can be interpreted in a number of ways, butwhichever way you look at it, it’s not for the faint-hearted. In its narrowest form, a diversity manager’s remit may be to look afterdiversity in a specific area such as gender, race and disability, and it tendsto be typecast in this capacity. At the leading edge, though, it broadens out to encompass all sorts ofcharacteristics. “I see my role as ensuring that all Ford employees have the opportunityto realise their potential,” explains Kamaljeet Jandu, diversity managerfor Ford of Britain. “You can’t just limit that to, say, women and ethnic minorities, youhave to include everyone, and everyone has a role.” For Jandu, who has a background working for trade unions (he was previouslyin the equal rights department of the TUC and before that a researcher at theTGWU), his typical day will include meeting diversity councils from one of theFord plants and/or meeting employment relations managers. Diversity managers deal with “big agendas”, says Worman andwhether there are several people in the department (Ford has 10 peopleresponsible for all locations in Europe) or they are in a department of one, itis important that they have support from the top. This is vital because demands are made on the diversity manager from everylevel of the company – you’ll be expected to have an opinion and a solution totheir problems, whether it’s a line manager, a recruitment manager, seniorexecutive or trade union official. Although being a diversity manager requires soft skills, like the ability toempathise, and it is equally important to be well-versed in the business sideof the organisation. Increasingly a link is being made between product and brand, customer baseand employees. If a company’s products are designed, built, marketed and soldby a well-rounded, diversified workforce, this will translate through to brandperception. “Of course it’s about being an employer of choice and doing the rightthing, but diversity also has to be rooted in the business agenda,” saysJandu. “If our customer base identifies with Ford and its products, it’sbecause we have an effective diversity programme.” Jandu’s sentiments are echoed by the diversity manager of Ford-owned LandRover, Donya Urwin, who describes product and brand as the fourth corner in herremit. “In one corner you need the necessary leadership, behaviour andinfrastructure in place to bring diversity into focus, in another you need amodern workplace with all the necessary policies and procedures that will allowan organisation to respond to variety in the workforce, in the third one youhave the management and retention of the talent and in the fourth you haveproduct and brand, the external facing bit. “I believe that if you have the first three in place, the final oneshould almost take care of itself,” she says. Diversity managers require a mix of abilities that aren’t found in everyone.Clearly Jandu’s training as an economist, mixed with his knowledge andsensitivity to workplace issues gleaned from his union work, has given him theright kind of make-up for the job. Similarly, Urwin’s successful track record as a business manager rather thanexclusively HR has induced the right kind of skills set and sensibilities. But both stress that one of the main requirements of the job is a sense offairness, justice and integrity. “People who can do this kind of job haveto be highly motivated and have a sense of equality,” says Jandu. And Urwin adds, “You’ve got to want to do a job like this and be interestedin it.” Evidence suggests that those who do fit the bill are amply rewarded. Wormanreckons that at the very top end (and she stresses “very top”),salaries could be more than £90,000, but on the whole they can be expected tobe around £30-35,000. Where diversity managers go afterwards isn’t easy to assess. Because of thedemands, some diversity managers say it is something that is best done for twoto three years. Certainly it provides a good basis for which to move into a general businessmanagement role, but equally it provides excellent experience with which tore-enter HR in a generalist role at a more senior level. Case StudyDonya Urwin, diversity manager at Land RoverDonya Urwin has been part of morethan one successful team in her time, but she says whenever management has comein and scrutinised the teams it finds no magic ingredient. “We’ve all just worked well together because we’vecommunicated, debated, discussed, compromised, listened to each other and soon. And that’s what diversity is all about.”Urwin has a solid background in HR – she was previously policymanager at Marks & Spencer and before that worked in a variety ofcustomer-facing senior management roles – but she has never seen herself as apure HR person. “I’ve always considered myself a more general businessmanager,” she says, adding that she doesn’t necessarily think diversityshould sit within the function. “It fits into HR in that some of the toolsand techniques it uses are sensibly aligned to the department, but I see myselfas more of an ombudsman.”In her role as diversity manager at Land Rover, where she hasbeen for six months, she reports directly to the HR director, but has what shedescribes as “a dotted line to the CEO”. She says, “I have a oneto one with him every month.”When she arrived at Land Rover, she was given a blank sheet ofpaper. Since joining, she has initiated a major organisational diversityreview, including employee surveys, focus groups and internal councils. Urwin is big on listening to what staff want and the reviewwill provide invaluable workforce feedback. “I’m a great believer inflexible working, but I don’t know if it’s what the workforce wants. Everyoneis different – it’s a case of finding out what makes everyone tick and holdingthings up to the light. “You must be aware that you are working with variety allof the time, and not just think of diversity in terms of race, gender anddisability. What a mother of four children wants and needs, for instance, willbe very different to the demands of someone in their 50s.”Urwin’s four corners approach identifies a strong link with theworkforce and product, but she also emphasises the importance of understandingthe mechanics of how an organisation works and how it produces and sells itsproducts. For this reason, she says, it’s not for her to decide whetherflexible working is right because it may not work well in a productionenvironment (she is also waiting to hear what the workforce thinks of it, ofcourse). But it is her job to provide the managers with a script on thesubject to go through with employees. “It’s easy to be evangelical andmoral in this job, but if you don’t know the reality of how cars are made andsold, you won’t get anywhere, which is why I think that working closely withthose who are in the frontline is vital in this job.”So would she recommend her job to others? The upside, she says,is that you feel like a pioneer every day because everything you do is aboutchange and transformation, but this can be draining. “Sometimes you’recreating tension,” she says. “But it is rewarding and satisfying. It’s the sort of jobI’d probably still like to be doing in five years’ time, but I don’t know if itwould be a good idea to do it that long. “It may be good to do for three or four years and itcertainly gives you the experience to then go on and be an even better businessmanager or HR professional.” DiversityOn 9 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img

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