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02/12/2008

The business case for diversity 2008 - Continuing the ‘Diversity Journey’

The business case for diversity 2008 - Continuing the ‘Diversity Journey’

On the 11th and 12th of December 2008, a 1 ½ day conference will be held in Brussels, the outcomes of which will mark another highlight in the advancement of diversity management in companies across Europe.

The conference, entitled ‘Continuing the Diversity Journey – Business Practices, Perspectives and Benefits’ will present  first –hand to 150 participants the findings and implications of a report based on 12 months of research into the Business case for Diversity. The overall theme of the conference is designed to illustrate the way in which inclusion and diversity present dynamic business opportunities for all companies in their search for enhanced competitiveness and capacity.

In this context, the conference will provide an opportunity to stimulate the exchange of experiences amongst businesses, employers’ representatives, politicians, civil society and other stakeholders across Europe.

The Background

In 2005, a study entitled ‘The Business Case for Diversity – good practices in the workplace’  was carried out for the European Commission. This study provided a rational framework, supported by case studies illustrating the business case for diversity across the EU. It aimed to promote the development of diversity policies in companies by examining the perceived business benefits, the specific challenges and the means of overcoming these challenges. The report also provided examples of good practices being implemented by a range of different companies across Europe, which in turn had brought about tangible results.

Essentially, the study underlined the real benefits of diversity practices. The study also noted the main obstacles in promoting diversity, according to respondents, as being a lack of information and a lack of measuring results and discriminatory behaviour in the workplace.

In December 2007 the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities, launched a new one-year study in order to further promote the Business Case for Diversity.

The 2008 study builds on previous results and aims to extend sound diversity management to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and to further explore means of promoting diversity and its benefits across European companies of all sizes. The study covers 5 main areas, as detailed in the final report (link to be added once on the website);

  • The business case for diversity in SMEs
  • A survey on Diversity policies and practices conducted with the European Business Test Panel
  • Experience and promotion of National Diversity Charters
  • The link between Diversity, Innovation and Productivity
  • The role of Business schools in training diversity managers of tomorrow 

The Rationale – business benefits

The ‘Business Case for Diversity’ argues that diversity policies make good business sense, as illustrated by the increasing number of European companies adopting diversity strategies, not only for ethical and legal reasons but also for the advantages they bring. These include a range of new and varied opportunities, such as strengthening corporate values, tackling manpower shortages, generating more creativeness and innovation, increasing motivation and with it, efficiency among their employees, and broadening the customer base.

Many companies across Europe have already taken diversity on board as a social fact and as an asset in terms of their activities. Over the last few years, more and more companies have developed effective, efficient diversity-management strategies.

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