by Pamela Arnold

American Institute for Managing Diversity, Inc.

At a recent luncheon, we discussed different approaches to creating a work environment that would accommodate various levels of diversity in the employee population. Several ideas and suggestions came up such as using online recruiting to help with selection, having crosscultural HR teams participate in the interviewing process, and many more. One thing we all agreed on was that we would not resolve this during the limited time for the luncheon.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2016, 43 percent of new job applicants will be people of color and more than half will be women. There has to be a strategy in place to recruit and retain the best talent, given the vast range of cultural differences and similarities.

“Organizations today need to equip leaders with a skill-based approach to strategic diversity management.”

In his book, The Future and the Work Ahead of Us, Harris Sussman writes, “Diversity is about our relatedness, our connectedness, our interactions, where the lines cross.” The goal is to create and sustain a work environment where diversity thrives and a plan for the recruitment, selection and retention of talent. We need to focus on understanding the culture and the role it plays in recruiting and retaining talent. To be successful, the plans should include the following:

Recruiting and Selection

  • Eliminate language barriers
  • Establish a multicultural interviewing team
  • Offer opportunities for growth, advancement and ongoing education
  • Understand and embed the cultural elements into the work environment.

The leadership team should involve a cross section of business executives and leaders, HR partners and external stakeholders who could implement the plan. Retention and sustainability involves:

  • Chief Executive leadership, board commitment and external partnership involvement
  • Connecting the diversity initiatives to the bottom line
  • Employee engagement, participation and involvement
  • Business line leadership integration
  • Results tied to key performance indicators metrics and measurement.

Diversity training and education has moved beyond the paradigm of awareness. Organizations today need to equip leaders with a skill-based approach to strategic diversity management. The Diversity Leadership Academy is AIMD’s flagship educational program. Its mission is to help bring state-of-the-art diversity management skills to leaders across all sectors of our society. The DLA serves as a unique community-building tool where leaders gain the knowledge and skills towards becoming a diversity champion.

There are a number of challenges and opportunities that we are facing as we expand our search for talent into other parts of the world. We must carefully consider all differences and similarities and learn the discipline of strategic diversity management. The activities outlined above can be used as part of an overall business strategy linked to the business units within the organization.

Pamela W. Arnold

Pamela W. Arnold

American Institute for Managing Diversity, Inc.

Pamela W. Arnold is President of the American Institute for Managing Diversity, Inc. The organization is a 501(c)(3) public interest nonprofit dedicated to advancing diversity thought leadership through research, education, and public outreach. AIMD works to strengthen our communities and institutions through effective diversity management. For more information, please visit