Building and Leading Diversity in the Workplace

Building and Leading Diversity in the Workplace

Building and Leading Diversity in the Workplace

As Ramadan approaches and we start looking forward to the Muslim traditions and customs associated with the Holy Month, it’s had us thinking more generally about diversity in its various forms in the workplace.

Dubai’s multicultural environment displays a vast array of individuals representing countries from all over the globe. Workplaces in the region therefore generally have a diverse mix of employees from all around the world. Creating a working environment that is respectful (celebratory even!) of differences, harmonious and productive despite cultural or gender differences is an important factor for business owners, corporations and organisations to consider. There needs to be a general attitude of tolerance and respect for all within workplaces, and those that do consider this in their plans create a dynamic and positive place for employees to thrive and be challenged.

Building and Leading Diversity in the Workplace

As we focus on building and leading diversity in the workplace we know having a culturally diverse workforce in itself is not enough, this needs to be actively fostered and cultivated by organisations who can lead the way through their policies and provisions. Co-Authors Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid who wrote Winning the War for Talent In Emerging Markets talk about the ‘disconnect phenomenon’ in an article for Harvard Business Review. They explain that there is a difference between diversity and inclusion. For organisations, diversity is purely a headcount number and the authors explain that inclusion is what happens after that is in place. They use the analogy of Verna Myers ‘Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance’. Consider how inclusive your organisation is and are you asking them to dance once they are at the party?

Gender Diversity

A study by McKinsey reveals that there are legitimate business benefits for companies that have true diversity evidenced in their structures. The study went to show that specific to gender diversity, organisations who were in the top quartile were 15% more likely to see financial returns putting them above national industry medians. Global representation of senior management roles held by women in a 2016 research report 4 ranged between 13 – 35%, the research 2016 highlights the wealth of opportunities for organisations in this area.

The UAE and its leadership take a very progressive stance on Gender diversity in the workplace and are leaders in the region on this subject. His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai is particularly supportive of woman in leadership – ‘Emirati woman continuously affirm their presence and active participation in the March of Development”. His Highness has said that “An Emirati woman’s great role in our society is a source of pride, 80% of the employees in my private offices are females”.

LHH’s Global awarding winning experience for women ‘Elevate Your Influence™ has been developed, to help organisations support their diversity goals and provide front-line to senior level female leaders with an opportunty to reflect , connect and make choices about the futre. To assist organisations advance women through their leadership pipeline – for individals to walk away with insight into their performance, perceived potential and a leadership plan together with the mindset required to achieve it.

There are so many ways to manage diversity and promote respect for in the workplace. This Ramadan, why not take the time to reflect and think about where you are in terms of cultural respect and diversity?

Think about setting a diversity strategy linked to organisational and personal performance and development plans, and investing in diversity training or coaching for management and key personnel – and rolling this out across the organisation. If you’d like more information or advice on managing cultural and gender diversity please give our multi-cultural team a call.


Hewlett, Sylvia Ann, and Ripa Rashid. Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women Are the Solution. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review, 2011. Print.

Rashid, Laura; Sherbin, Ripa. “Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., 01 Feb. 2017.

Why Diversity Matters, McKinsey (2015).

Grant Thornton IBR Women in Business Report 2016 (based on data Q3 & Q4 2015)