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Diversity Mangement

What is diversity management?

In the wake of globalisation, our societies are becoming increasingly diverse, resulting in a diversification of gender orientations, abilities, political convictions and socioeconomic status, but also ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs. As a result of societal developments such as increased migration and technological advances, public spaces, workplaces and even homes have become the meeting places of diverse cultures and many languages. One might assume that this diversity is a valuable asset, but diversity can also be challenging to manage.

Diversity management acknowledges that people have different backgrounds in regard to religious beliefs, gender, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status and abilities. Relevant challenges that require an appropriate diversity management can be:

● Intercultural communication issues
● Cultural misunderstandings
● Slower decision making
● Inequitable inclusion and unequal opportunities
● Discrimination and exclusion
● Misrepresentation of societal groups

With suitable diversity management strategies we can create diverse and inclusive environments, with respect for different backgrounds, experiences and talents. Leadership, effective communication, sensitivity, authenticity and policy making skills are needed for this.

Students in the Minorities & Multilingualism programme are trained to become such diversity managers, experts in helping multilingual and multicultural organisations and societies to use their diversity as a valuable resource and overcome challenges such as non-inclusivity and unequal opportunities. This leads to more sustainable organisations (such as cities, schools, companies) where diverse people can prosper and engage in successful intercultural communication.

Types of diversity management

Diversity management is a necessary strategy in a variety of both formal and informal settings. For example:

- Corporate organisations: how should companies employ and maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce? What are the advantages and disadvantages of introducing quotas, and what are other methods of ensuring diversity does not become an empty discourse?

- Governmental institutions: how can governments, ministries and public agencies foster an inclusive society, and reduce social inequalities of all kinds?

- NGO’s: how can NGOs collaborate with government and corporations to fight against racism and discrimination, promote good practices of intercultural communication and raise awareness of the advantages of multicultural and multilingual societies?

- Education: how should schools and teacher training departments create an inclusive environment and provide equal opportunities for all students?

- Cultural institutions (e.g. musea, theatre companies, festivals): how should a collection be curated to fit the needs and expectations of all visitors? How can cultural performances reflect the views of diverse groups?

Here are two relevant examples:

● The Dutch national government, for example, states that their diversity policy pays attention to: the intake and throughput of personnel, retaining employees with a non-western background and creating awareness of and preventing (unconscious) prejudices. A clear point of action is their aim for a minimum of 33% women in official top positions.

● The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam acknowledges their responsibility to be a museum that speaks to everyone and wishes to actively “tap into” the power of diversity and plurality. To foster this, they adopt strategies such as: participating in Dutch as a Second Language programmes, hosting sensory-friendly evenings, hiring a diversity manager, hosting a colonial past multimedia tour and partnering with diversity-fostering organisations.

Implementing diversity management

Effective and inclusive diversity management is not only a strategy that ensures necessary equity and representativity of society within an organisation or setting: it also provides a positive effect on performance, participation, stimulates innovation, allows organizations and communities to grow and has a positive impact on the organization and community members’ satisfaction and wellbeing. With globalisation movements and the increase in digital communication forms - also due to the Covid 19 pandemic - diversity management skills have become a global imperative.

Diversity management in the Minorities & Multilingualism program

Through providing you with basic knowledge and experience about minorities and multilingualism during your first year, teaching you how to do research on diversity issues in your second year, and helping you to become an expert on diversity issues in the third year, the Minorities & Multilingualism programme prepares you to become a diversity and inclusion manager. Your knowledge and skills come together in the third year course Diversity Management.

Into the Local Laboratory: Cultural Heritage - Year 2

Cultural heritage is constructed in relation to religious processes, power structures, identity formation, tourism and economic developments. Cultural heritage often has been used to impose a dominant culture on minority groups, but has increasingly become a means for minorities to present, safeguard and sometimes even strengthen their traditions and identity as well. During the course, you will not only be introduced to theories and methods for the study of cultural heritage, but also partake in interesting and fun excursions to historical sites in Groningen, Fryslân and Drenthe, work on your writing skills (with extensive feedback on your writing) and develop your skills in setting up and reporting on research projects. Finally, you will learn how to write policy advice for cultural organisations, museums and municipalities on how to manage cultural diversity.

Into the Local Laboratory: Language - Year 2

Question: which language is spoken in the north of the Netherlands? Answer: Dutch? Well, yes but also many other languages. There is, of course, Frisian, the second official language of the Netherlands spoken mostly in the bilingual province of Fryslân. But there are also regional languages such as Gronings and Drents, as well as the languages spoken by migrants, expats and refugees. The multilingual north is our laboratory during this course. We will discuss how multilingualism relates to, for instance, aging, healthcare and poverty. This is a very practical course: you will learn how to make videos, set up roundtable discussions on specific topics and write a research paper. We will go on field trips to the three northern provinces (Drenthe, Fryslân or Groningen), after which you will go into the local laboratory by yourself to do your own fieldwork!

Diversity in Education - year 3

This course will introduce students to the multidisciplinary topic of diversity in education, both in theory and as an empirical reality. The focus is on linguistic and cultural diversity, as well as on the interplay of both from a cross-national perspective. Lectures on a selection of topics provide an overview of the latest theories and empirical results on the focal aspects of the field. Students will gain hands-on knowledge on how to present and do research on several topics around diversity in education. In addition, students learn how to write policy advice for educational institutions.

M&M Diversity Management - year 3

This is a course about intercultural encounters – and how to manage them! During this course, you will look at the academic field of study of intercultural communication that studies encounters between different worldviews and you will write an academic paper on a related topic. However, you will also practice the art of diversity management yourself, in simulated intercultural encounters where you are given the role of a cultural consultant who has to solve a communication breakdown in an intercultural setting. For this, you will be taught to take your presentation skills to the next level and then prepare a workshop on an issue of intercultural communication.

Examples of jobs and internship opportunities

As the field of diversity management is up-and-coming, there are various vacancies for students and graduates who are specialized in diversity issues and intercultural communication.

During your studies, you could think of doing an internship at a company like Accenture. This consultancy company is looking for an intern that can lead recruitment & leadership development projects, organize events and workshops for their internal diversity communities, strengthen the company’s I&D policy and maintain a relationship with various stakeholders.

After graduating, there are diverse opportunities to continue working in consultancy or policy making. Health Care Insurer VGZ, for example, is looking for a university graduate with relevant expertise and work experience in the field of Diversity and Inclusion. As a Diversity & Inclusion specialist at this company, you will work on implementing a cultural transformation organisation-wide, with a focus on gender, employment, cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ and age diversity.

Last modified:23 August 2021 1.42 p.m.
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