Tuesday May 15, 2012
Diversity key to success
By WONG WEI-SHEN
ACCA chief: It can be a useful tool to tackle modern business problems
PETALING JAYA: Diversity, if managed well, can be an excellent tool for businesses to tackle modern business problems and enable them to compete in a globalised and dynamic business world.
Rather than just being about gender and race amongst other things, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) chief executive Helen Brand said: “Diversity is about how their companies think, how their processes work, and how they manage their human capital.
“It's about getting the most out of your business, taking advantage of creative tension, making sure that the way you do business doesn't miss out on the talent you have.”
According to an ACCA report entitled “Building a better business through finance diversity”, finance teams in business need to embrace diversity to ensure they are at the forefront in solving modern business problems.
Five key steps for business to harness diversity were identified in the report. They are to understand cultural differences; start diversity with recruitment; nurture diversity where it doesn't already exist; embrace open ways of working; and manage the tension between standardisation and diversity.
Brand said that recruitment was probably one of the biggest challenges for businesses. “It's looking for differences in people that is really valuable. It's also about retaining the balance core value of the organisation with injecting that difference into the organisation,” she said.
AirAsia Bhd group head of people and Asean government relations Adzhar Ibrahim said companies that had international exposure realised that diversity was important more than those who had purely local exposure.
This was because they wanted to be in front of the curve when change happened.
“Companies that don't apply diversity will be at a disadvantage. They will not be able to attract the best people, as well as in creating a reputation that allows them to build a strong branding in order to say that they are a company that values all kinds of skills and diversity,” he said.
“They will always be playing catch-up compared with those who are more courageous in doing so.”
“I think that Malaysia's current labour market has a lot of untapped potential, which is not properly utilised by companies. If we want the programme to work, companies must be focused on making sure talent is drawn out and put in a productive part of the organisation,” he added.