There is merit in extending the debate relating to whether human resources (HR) is the ‘home’ of diversity within an organisation to considering where responsibility lies within that function, as some business sectors continue to see diversity as a burden managed at the lowest possible level rather than as offering a significant opportunity (Letters, Personnel Today, 2 October).
Without wishing to pre-empt surveys being carried out, I would suggest that the key elements required for diversity to be managed effectively – and to make a sustainable contribution in terms of enhanced business results – are for a board-level champion and a multi-functional advisory team responsible for developing a diversity strategy that incorporates sales and marketing opportunities at a similar level to employment, compliance and legislation issues.
Those organisations adopting similar strategies have achieved considerable return on investment and recognition, alongside the HR-related benefits of staff development and generating employer of choice status.
Potentially this invites organisations to manage diversity across functions, with key input from HR, sales and marketing, and corporate social responsibility.
If HR takes the lead in this area and as a result becomes a key party in generating what can be considerable new business, it potentially provides an opportunity to enhance its reputation with other organisational functions.
Richard Purser, managing director, Diversity Dimension