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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: Jan 2014

How Diversity and Inclusion needs to be approached differently in EMEA to the USA

Recently I was a keynote speaker at The Courageous Leaders’ Summit in Milwaukee, USA. I had been asked to speak on how the approach to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) differed in EMEA to that in the USA. This best practice outlines some of the key points that I made in the presentation.

The first was that there is a very limited common EMEA identity as opposed to a much more distinct American one. Hence, identification in EMEA mainly occurs at the national level. This is fostered by national cultures and many different languages. Moreover, in some cases, countries have been at war with each other and some regions still face civil, ethnic or religious disturbances. Furthermore, in many parts of the Middle East and Africa bias is sometimes still conscious, as opposed to being unconscious, and intentional, e.g. in relation to women and gay and lesbian people.

Another difference in parts of Africa and the Middle East is that there is:

-          A Culture of Deference based on a high Power Distance Index;

-          Limited employment mobility due to geography, family ties, and low levels of income;

-          Particular cultural attitudes to women, LGBT people and different religions;

-          A preoccupation with transactional leadership, which is a key barrier to building an inclusive culture;

-          Significant differences in the commitment by Western owned and locally owned businesses to D&I, with the former usually being significantly higher.

IDC’s experience in EMEA is that placing the emphasis on inclusion is key. We:

-          Keep the ‘d’ word (diversity) low key as research has demonstrated that male managers have often developed an aversion to the word because their experience of diversity efforts is that they have excluded them (see IDC Best Practice for November 2013).

-          Position inclusion as mainstream to business success and, therefore, strategically driven;

-          Stress that inclusion excludes no one and do this by introducing clients to the concept of layers of diversity covering: personality; the 6 diversity strands, lifestyle differences, different work experiences;

-          Help our clients develop and adopt inclusive behaviours to leverage the Power of Inclusion and enable them to reap the benefits of an inclusive culture: higher productivity; more creativity and excellence in problem solving; greater responsiveness to customers and clients; high performing teams; improved Employer Brand; enhanced employee wellbeing.

In addition to the help we give our EMEA clients to position inclusion as a mainstream contributor to business success, we also support them through cross-cultural training so that they can manage and trade effectively across the different national cultures.

Following this approach has meant that IDC has had considerable success in enabling its EMEA, and, indeed, its global clients, to reap the benefits referred to above from building an inclusive culture. If you’d like to know more about this please do not hesitate to contact me.

Dr Ian Dodds,


IDC Academy Online: http://idcacademyonline.com/

29 Dec 2013


Related articles             

·      Begin with the senior white male managers to gain the big business benefits from building an inclusive culture, including increasing the proportion of underrepresented groups in management

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