Global HR practices are becoming increasingly important to organizational success.
As professionals forge ahead, they have encountered one of the fundamental challenges of a multinational enterprise: determining the balance between global continuity and local flexibility. Introducing a country-centric strategy without considering the unique needs of other locations leads to pushback, lack of buy-in, and in some cases resentment. But determining the solutions – what is truly global and what must be local – can be difficult.
A good example of this global/local challenge is in the
area of diversity, primarily because the concept originated in the US as an offshoot of equal opportunity laws and affirmative action regulations. Many US-based corporations disseminated their diversity initiatives without adaptation to other countries. The results of this have been pronounced: few global diversity initiatives have yielded results; instead they have reinforced the belief that diversity is a US race/gender/legal mandate, and have created strong resistance to future efforts.
This is unfortunate because there are legitimate reasons for addressing the issue of diversity in each country – but only if we clarify what a “diversity initiative” is and honor what is truly global and what must be local.
What is a global diversity initiative?
A global diversity initiative is a process for achieving change in diversity-related behaviors for enhanced business results. This is achieved through a process, not a mere training program or series of special events. It is a change management strategy that addresses the special challenges of changing diversity-related behaviors and of doing so in different locations, cultures and businesses.
The Simmons change model includes ten essential components, including a specific sequence of events that enable an organization to reap the benefits of diversity and avoid the common pitfalls, including the “made in headquarters for export” syndrome. The components are:
- Strong business case.
- Unified corporate definition, vision and strategy, authored by international leadership.
- Global line ownership and accountability.
- Strategic sequencing.
- Aligned national diversity strategies.
- Strong management skills.
- Customized, position-specific skills education.
- Bottom-up authorship.
- Measure by objectives.
- Continuous improvement.
For this article I will focus on the first two areas, those where the distinctions between the country-centric and global must be made clearly and at the outset– the definition of diversity and the business case.