New laws and business pressures mean that organisations must attend to diversity issues. Elaine Essery looks at a pan-European project that helps to get the relevant training off to a flying start
As managing diversity moves higher up the list of priorities at many organisations, an ambitious new project seeks to turn the rhetoric into reality.
Sheffield Hallam University Business School has secured funding from the European Commission to develop a Diversity Enabling Framework in partnership with organisations in Italy, Spain and Sweden.
The year-long project aims to produce a practical toolkit to help employers tackle diversity by drawing on current good practice and sharing the knowledge and experiences of transnational partners. It seeks to build a consensus on how to tackle common problems within the European Union, whilst promoting cumulative learning.
The initiative is the brainchild of Dr Nav Khera, an expert in managing diversity and consultant to the European Commission who served on both the Euro- pean anti-discrimination directives adopted in the last year within the Amsterdam Treaty.
Khera is passionate about the need for social inclusion and about empowering organisations to manage diversity. “If you want to enforce anti-discrimination laws you’ve got to start pooling knowledge and action,” he says.
“Many organisations are in a deficit model not because of sinister designs on exclusion, but because they simply don’t know what to do. I want to teach organisations to fish, not just give them a fish.”
Khera wants to see the term “managing diversity” used as common parlance and is keen to distinguish it from equal opportunities. “The distinction is a massive one,” he stresses.
“Equal opportunities is about letting people in, but managing diversity is about what you do with them once you’ve let them in.”