Societies, organizations and individuals more and more are being affected by the increasing speed of both global and local change. The future foretells increasing diversification of cultures, co-cultures and individual biographies woven into complex ever changing wholes.
In "global cultures" of the present world differences are repelling more clearly against one another than ever before. Co-cultures seem to be yearning for their own identities through emphasizing their outward differences to others.
The recognition of these differences -no matter whether they are interpersonal, between groups, organizations or whole societies- and the search for a common, connecting basis is becoming ever more critical.
Cultural diversity is being accompanied by just as much diversity in skills and competence, life styles and unique personal and group identities, which have the potential to lead to just as much creation of new wealth of know-how and innovation. This same positive potential brings along with it also a negative potential for conflict and strife.
An evolution of new forms of life and organization is underway, in which the borders between us are becoming more flexible and fluid. Increasingly people are starting to realize that a new competence is deeply needed and should be systematically maintained and improved, that is, competence at managing diversity, a competence to be used to facilitate the positive potential and qualitative growth toward integration and peace in our "global village".
Diversity Management is concerned with the place of corporate and other organizations in these evolutionary developments. For example, business organizations are involved in them in two ways:
First, they define the parameters of the markets of the future. They are increasingly becoming dependent on the complex social and political needs of their customers. Consequently, in their planning these needs have to be considered more and more, if they want to sell their products.
Second, business organizations are increasingly being expected to take a social or political position. Shareholder value creation in a narrow, important sense, of course, has to be defined in some way as successfully achieved in financial terms. However, the assessment of the value of the whole business (including in the eyes of the public who are constantly being bombarded by images from the media) is not enough. The value behind the financial processes is becoming increasingly more complex to determine. The concept of stakeholder value more approximates this underlying, more intangible, complex value.
In our view Diversity Management is considered a more comprehensive management discipline than what most views of management are used to. It is not just the management of human resources. Of course, there are some areas of an organization which are more effected by diversity than others (ex. marketing). But even apparently neutral areas like production will suddenly become more sensitive to change when the classical view of economics no longer fits well into the realities of networks transcending borders at a faster and faster pace in "global sourcing".