Q. I am a HR manager, six months into a new job. I have observed that the previous manager did not practice diversity, since this company is dominated by two tribes. Is it fair to fire under-performing employees and re-structure the company to accomplish diversity?
There is more to diversity besides the ethnic outlook in organisations. It spans the reaches of observable demographics such as colour, to the more nuanced, including thinking styles. Part of managing diversity in organisations targets reaping from the contributions of everyone, in spite of their differences.
Firing underperforming employees who remain unresponsive to resuscitative support should be a normal part of business. The management of poor performance is not a solution to underlying diversity challenges, neither should it target a particular group of employees. Great performance and merit is not the preserve of a particular demographic. Restructuring is often applied in response to business challenges such as unsustainable costs and significant changes in the nature and context of business, among others. At best, it would be odd to restructure a business based on its tribal composition.
Entrenching diversity in organisations takes time and remains work in progress as businesses evolve. Part of the solution includes senior leadership demonstrating the practice of diversity. It also requires HR professionals to be diversity evangelists and to be conscious as they recruit, promote and midwife other staffing decisions. As you handle your case, ensure that the two tribes are not vilified as they too need to be assessed on the basis of merit, not mother tongue.
Although diversity is to be celebrated, bear in mind that it is not the elixir for organisational performance. Ransacking historical idiosyncrasies, attempting to rebalance every demographic and chasing limelight-friendly diversity indexes will not drive revenues for any business. Steward the diversity agenda to the extent that it helps you become an effective catalyst for employee engagement and business performance.