Contact Susan Klopfer
Susan Klopfer, who writes and consults on how to capitalize on diversity – says that businesses and organizations with ”true diversity of leaders” typically perform better financially and in other ways, too.
And she offers hope for business leaders on how to get there.
“These organizations show an increased capacity to link with new global and domestic markets, as well as an expanded access to global and domestic talent pools,” Klopfer said, citing findings from “Diverse City,” a project of the Greater Toronto, Canada Leadership Project and from her own experiences and informal data gathering.
Heightened innovation and creativity are also more possible within diverse organizations, along with strengthened social unity or cohesion -- “People who learn to respect each other’s differences, and who learn to treat each other using the Platinum Standard are simply going to work better together and there will be more rewards when this occurs – socially and economically.”
But Klopfer warns that too many organizations still haven’t grasped the “platinum standard,” a diversity management term coined by diversity management guru R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr.
“This means listening and learning from others as to how they wish to be treated and understood, and not assuming you have the answers, stemming from your own personal ideas and values.”
Greater employee productivity and organizational performance can also be expected when there is a commitment to diversity. Thinking out of the box has been attributed to work done by diverse teams, for example.
“The Toronto Project found that diverse leaders are able to respond better to Canada’s increasingly multicultural markets, and that diverse leadership is more likely to attract and retain a diverse workforce.”
So how can any organization ensure diversity of leadership? And can a turn-around happen fast?
“First, make diversity a strategic priority,” Klopfer suggests.
“There should be a public commitment to diversity in leadership that sets the tone and creates the right conditions for change.”
Another tip – “Break out of your comfort zone and realize diversity requires change. You will have to take some risks. Leaders must learn to consider new options and to try new things.”
Klopfer tells about one Canadian company that was able to move quickly into diversity by capitalizing on their networks to increase board diversity.
“They approached some 450 community-based organizations to reach out to prospective board members, in essence, asking everyone they knew for recommendations. Then they created a grid system to assess, track and monitor qualifications.”
Group mentoring is still another way to help bring diversity into an organization’s culture, Klopfer said. “Find senior ambassadors within the organization and help them network with non-executives by sharing personal stories about their careers, and by leading discussions regarding challenges and opportunities for people to succeed.”
Always establish goals and measure results, Klopfer said. “Become publicly accountable by posting this information to website and other venues such as news releases and internal newsletters.
While these tips for moving to diversity may sound simple enough, Klopfer warns there is no quick fix to diversification. “It is a journey that will never be over.”
But creating a culture of diversity “will help put measures in place within the organization and to address what are called unconscious biases that too often pose obstacles to hiring and upward mobility of diverse people.”
Cash In On Diversity published by Smashwords (distributor of eBooks to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store) blends practical experience with academic findings and provides do-able solutions.
The 12 chapter eBook features a diversity and psychology FAQ contributed by a social and clinical psychologist, a discussion of five common diversity mistakes companies make, specific tips for communicating with non-native speakers, an 11-point organizational diversity analysis, the script from Klopfer’s popular diversity webinar, followed by a complete glossary of critical diversity terms (“from Abrahamic religions to xenophobia”).
The Gallup, New Mexico writer holds a master’s degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan University and an undergraduate degree in communication from Hanover College. The former Missouri journalist and Prentice Hall editor wrote three civil rights books on the Mississippi Delta and also wrote a Book of-the-Month alternate selection on personal computing, published by Prentice Hall.