Global HR Hot Topic - January 2013: Cross-Border Diversity Initiatives for Recruiting and Retention

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Challenge:

Diversity initiatives that promote recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce are increasingly important outside the US. But transplanting a US diversity initiative for overseas workers risks confusion, hostility — or worse.

Equal employment opportunity and diversity play a huge role in domestic American human resources administration and in US employment law compliance ––surely a bigger role than in any other country, particularly outside the common law world. So it might seem that, when it comes to propagating workplace diversity globally, American multinationals enjoy a clear head start. But very-different demographics abroad make this head start less advantageous than it may at first appear. Indeed, in some contexts overseas, too much experience with US diversity initiatives might even be a drawback.

How, specifically, does a multinational drive EEO compliance and foster workplace diversity across jurisdictions? US EEO and diversity tools were originally honed for the atypical, rarified environment of US discrimination, harassment and affirmative action law, and for the unique demographics of the United States. So they do not always work well abroad, at least not without significant retooling. This is particularly true as to those American diversity tools and programs engineered to increase demographic representation in the workplace through recruiting and retention (as opposed to softer diversity training programs meant to enhance respect and tolerance among co-workers already in a workforce).

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