Diversity is…err, too diverse?

by Viv on December 20, 2007

A few times when I’ve been talking to potential clients about their wanting to have some diversity e-learning developed, it’s quickly become apparent that the task is not as easy as it looked at first glance. That’s because there are few topics as wide ranging as diversity and a key first step in e-learning is define what content you’re aiming to convey. Herbert Smith seem to have come up with a way to address the thorny problem of defining what diversity means in the context of your own corporate culture (The Lawyer 17/12/7).

The main thing that tends to govern the definition of diversity and hence what is covered by any e-learning is the business driver behind promoting diversity. The nature of diversity tends to polarise into one of two categories:

1. Equality: covering the legal basics e.g. the Disability Discrimination Act, so that the company does not get sued by its employees and it can tick the box on proposals where the client insists that diversity training has been completed by staff.
2. Diversity: a positive celebration of how the differences between people provide new ways of solving problems, understanding market needs and delivering higher quality client service

So what have Herbies done?
They have taken the pre-existing “inclusivity group” and divided it into 5 subgroups:

  1. Gender
  2. Ethnicity and social inclusion
  3. Sexual orientation and gender identity
  4. Work-life balance
  5. Disability

This gives the opportunity for each working party to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues and how to address them. Provided these sub-groups can continue to work in a co-ordinated way, this seems to be a very sensible structure to help the firm make a difference in diversity.

It also means that if the firm were to develop diversity e-learning, there would be an obvious pool of subject matter experts to draw upon.

If you are ever tasked with making sense of what diversity means in your firm, you could do a lot worse than to borrow those five headings.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: