Sonntag, 9. September 2012

Germany’s Diversity Dilemma: 80% of German Companies Surveyed Promote Women’s Rights Only

According to a recent study by the Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, 80% of the companies surveyed for Diversity Management in Germany, promote women’s rights only

Why is it that disadvantages based on one trait gets more attention, than disadvantages based on other traits?

Germany is currently working on fixing the problem that she considers important: moving forward women. Plus, due to the lack of appreciation for diversity, “white” women tend to benefit disproportionately from this effort. This can be considered a plus as racial and other forms of discrimination are seen as controversial topics. They are therefore avoided, as much as possible.

It is “safer” to talk about gender inequality because gender inequality exists in the United States as well as other countries in Europe. Most people know that women have been historically disadvantaged in the workplace. Therefore, the topic is less controversial.

However, due to Germany’s history, admitting that people are also disadvantaged based on their ethnic, racial and other traits is more difficult. Admitting  that racial and ethnic discrimination exists  additionally would lead to questions about i.e. institutional racism in Germany. A topic that is avoided and its existence preferably denied.

As a result of avoiding an honest discussion about ethnic and racial inequalities, appropriate scientific knowledge was never established in Germany. There is a lack of education about biases, stereotypes, discrimination and related issues.
What Germany needs is 21st century level knowledge and education on issues related to diversity. People who work in the Diversity Management field play a big role in improving the status-quo. The concept of diversity is unfortunately very new to Germany. Most organizations don’t know enough about the topic. Therefore, they need to rely on Diversity Consultants to educate their employees. The Diversity Consultants have the responsibility to encourage organizations to discuss ethnic and other forms of diversity and not limit the discussion on gender diversity. After all, diversity—as the name suggests—means diversity, not “women only.”

Lack of equal opportunity is damaging and costly to a society no matter what the discrepancy is based on. Neglecting discrimination based on ethnicity, racial and other factors while trying to fix discrimination based on gender sends a very strong message. Assuming that this message is not intended, a change of course in Diversity Management is needed as soon as possible.


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