We had our wrap-up session today at TASMAC for the specialization module in Strategic HR for Feb-May 2010 semester. The IBM statement below triggered an interesting discussion on Diversity as a source of competitive advantage for MNCs. “At IBM diversity is seen as the ‘bridge between the workplace and the market place and it has become central to IBM’s ability to win in the global market place”.

A few of the issues that came up in our discussions are enumerated below. You are most welcome to comment on the points or add your own.

Why diversity?

1.  A MNC may be active in several countries as such it needs to be sensitive to accepted norms of behavior and culture in the different countries.

2.  Easier to assimilate and incorporate worldwide learning and new developments, in MNC organizational practices.

3.  Diversity will help organizations to develop a flexible mindset that rewards performance and merit regardless of nationality.

4.  Organizations need to extend beyond the traditional sub sets of diversity – race, gender, religion and must become a way of life embedded in the organizational culture.

5.  Leadership must express and communicate their belief in diversity through vision and mission statements.

6.  Diversity campaigns must begin from the process of recruitment and reflect in all other organizational processes and decision making. Senior management must co-partner HR in diversity implementation.

7.  Training programs must imaginatively highlight the benefits that will accrue to various units embracing diversity.

8.  A management journal has it that inclusion of women at Board level changes the dynamics of meetings.

9.  McKinsey Quarterly in an article states that while the developed world wrestles with falling birthrates and rising rates of retirement, emerging markets are producing a surplus of young talent; in fact, they graduate more than twice as many university-educated professionals as the developed world does. Many organizations have been eyeing this source of talent.

10.  With baby boomers approaching retirement, organizations will fall short of experienced people. A particular demographic challenge comes from Generation Y—people born after 1980 who have a different value system. They do not want to work 100 hours a week. Their tenures range from 2 to 3 years and they believe in meaningful jobs, professional freedom, higher rewards and better work-life balance unlike their seniors.

11.  The biggest challenge for diversity to take roots in MNCs will to break-away the inherent ‘ethno-centric’ mindset and transform to ‘geocentric’. Thus ideas and innovations will flow freely in the internal communications of the organizations who are present spread in different parts of the world.

Farewell my friends

Strategic HR Specialization Class 2010

Thank you guys for your cooperation, patience and keen participation in all our sessions. The lovely young folk are – from left to right Suod Taha (From Eritrea a country in the Horn of Africa), Rakesh Kotti, Supriya Dhende. Susmita Subba (Nepal), Ashish Mahato (Nepal) and Tarun Bulland. Wish you all the best. 🙂

About Dilip

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are music and growing culinary herbs. Love to play golf and do yoga regularly. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

21 responses

  1. organization says:


    […]Diversity a Source of MNC’s Competitive Advantage. « dilipnaidu's blog[…]…


  2. Geetha says:

    Dear Mr. Sriram,

    I must thank you for your unique and thought-provoking article!

    I can never forget these lines….

    “So what are organizations doing these initiatives for? to fulfil legal requirements? to follow the letter of the law? If only they went beyond the letter of the law to the spirit of it, and were clear WHY they were doing it, they would realize that diversity initiatives need to but celebrate UNIQUENESS in each one of us.”

    Thanks and regards,



  3. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir,

    If we investigate the roots of the word diversity, it throws up the word ‘uniqueness’. I have always had a problem with ‘diversity’ as an initiative in organizations as i cannot understand what it means.

    The evolutionary requirement of man to appreciate ‘diversity’ or difference was purely to help him make flight or fight decisions. He needed to know the differences to ‘survive’. Now that we have long come out of the caves, we need to take a hard look at this tendency in us to ‘automatically’ look for differences in people and by that extension everything else…

    hence we always look at people as fat / thin, tall /short, dark / fair etc. and based on a relative scale that is UNIQUE to us. Is this quality in us a ‘good’ thing? the answer is a definitive NO. It enhances our biases, prejudices and stereotypes and only brings conflict and discomfort (and no thanks to FAT(Fundamental attribution theory!! ))

    Organizations by labeling things as ‘diversity’ are only helping to MAGNIFY rather than reduce the harmful impacts of ‘appreciating differences’.

    If diversity is all about being unique, that we are anyways. Every thing in nature is unique & that is the very nature of life. When somebody is told (s)he is different it leads to exclusion, when somebody is told (s)he is unique it leads to a sense of inclusion.

    So what are organizations doing these initiatives for? to fulfil legal requirements? to follow the letter of the law? If only they went beyond the letter of the law to the spirit of it, and were clear WHY they were doing it, they would realize that diversity initiatives need to but celebrate UNIQUENESS in each one of us.

    One analogy for the ‘foolishness’ of appreciating diversity is – akin to appreciating that we have eyes, hands, legs, etc… All diverse yet coming together as ONE human. So should we have Hand WEEK? LEG DAY and so on?? But when we look not at the difference between Hand and Leg and Focus on its uniqueness & therefore its importance and its contribution we tend to take better care of it!

    What will change with this change of perspective? How can one focus on uniqueness without focusing on strengths? without being appreciative? We will then focus on a polio stricken individual’s ability to write brilliant software, focus on how women make excellent car sales(men) (As Nissan discovered!), focus on how dyslexics make brilliant creatives and how even a chaiwala can contribute to increasing productivity!

    We have had stellar examples of looking at diversity as a business issue and not as a ‘nice to do’ thing from the Indian Subcontinent
    – focus on WOMEN to handle finances and by default chosen to be ‘eligible’ to be funded by Grameen Bank
    – focus on Physically Challenged at Lazersoft as they make better programmers & they come with zero attrition!
    – Sri Mahila Griha Udyog (Lijjat Papad) – a pioneer in channeling the culinary talents of housewives to create a sustainable & profitable business…..and the list is quite long….

    Hence let not companies make a song and dance about celebrating ‘diversity’, instead celebrate uniqueness of individuals and as Strategic HR – our challenge is to first understand WHY it makes business sense to have a ‘diverse’ workforce and then create suitable structures and systems that allow this uniqueness to thrive and thereby deliver/ build sustained competitive advantage!

    This is captured brilliantly in this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtepBBI6n0w

    Also, with this expanded vision of diversity, diversity management is a default setting and not only applicable to MNC’s because as long as an organization has people, it is by default diverse and therefore requires all MANAGERS to be sensitive to the uniqueness in each one of us, to harness these strengths and deliver business performance.




    • Dilip says:

      Dear Sriram,

      A lot of learning for me and I am sure for our readers too. Yes diversity is all about being unique and respecting that uniqueness. In practice however we are trapped by our own beliefs and complexes. As such we form impressions based on looks, religion, gender, nationality and so on. Organizations do have to fulfill mandatory legal requirements but yet there are some who are making serious attempts to implement it in letter and spirit. Its strategic implications are well known to you. A successful diversity initiative has to be leader-driven and a culture that is supportive.

      With kind regards!


  4. Bharat says:

    Good discussion on the topic.


  5. dilipnaidu says:

    Hi Supriya,

    It was great to have you as a student in class – always keen and attentive. You have excellent qualities in you and a great future. Just move ahead with confidence and always remember Swami Vivekananda’s famous words – http://wp.me/ppmHN-4B

    Keep in touch,

    Regards and my नमस्कार

    Dilip Naidu


  6. supriya dhende says:

    I wanted to thank you personally for everything you did to help me succeed this semester. There were times when I wanted to give up and change majors, but you took the time to assure me that I could master the material. I’ve had many teachers in my career as a student, and I can honestly say none has inspired me as you have. You really go the extra mile for your students, and I didn’t want you to think your dedication goes unnoticed.

    With regards


  7. suod says:

    Respected Sir

    Really I feel great honor and privilege to write my comment in your blog .
    Dear sir indeed i have a lot of words to say for you but i prefer to say one which is unique memory which i remember through entire my life about you .

    Dear Sir you might not noticed but i do that is my first week in TASMAC really i had a very hard time because all the situation was new for me even i could not follow my study properly …then i had decided to share my problem with you when i told you all my problems which i was facing in study ….you replied me first with nice smile and then you shared me your experience in Nigeria …. starting from that day till now your advice remains in my mind and it helps me for the entire year and i will keep up .

    Sir i don’t know how to explain you even if i applied millions of words but allow me to say you one word you are really a person who has a capability to lead others .

    Honor to have you Sir.

    yours faithfully

    Suod Taha Africa Eritrea


    • Dilip says:

      Dear Suod,

      I am touched by your sentiments. You are our honored guest from Eritrea and we all enjoyed your wonderful company. All students of our class treated you as one of them. That speaks a lot of your own friendly nature.

      Yes I was treated very well in my Nigeria stint and I always look forward to reciprocate the same with all my foreign students.

      Please do keep in touch even when you are back home in Eritrea. I wish you a great future ahead. And BTW you never know I we may still meet by chance at your favorite restaurant – the Coffee Jar 🙂

      Good luck,

      Dilip Naidu


  8. Dilip Naidu says:

    Dear Ashish,

    I owe much to you guys who have been kind to accept me as a friend. You keep smiling as you are in are in the picture above of your wonder-group.

    Ashish I am touched by your sentiments and do keep in touch with here us when you return to picturesque Nepal. Wish you great success in your enterprise.

    Be happy always 🙂



  9. ashish says:

    Dear Sir,

    Indeed it was a pleasure seeking guidance from you, with a focus to prepare myself for the future.

    The entire semester has always been so power packed from your end, respecting all the view points from us. I would not want to go far to elaborate on diversity; since I have seen you getting the essence of it best with our group.

    In literal terms you have always been so sensitive, given our background, ethnicity, gender and personality. The list is endless.

    Thank you for allowing me to understand my colleagues and bringing us together, in spite of differences; thereby focussing our energies towards bigger picture of life.

    Honour to have you Sir.

    Yours Sincerely
    Ashish Mahto


  10. Dilip Naidu says:

    Hello dear Shantanu,

    Its nice to read your comments. Too much structure in our approach to diversity will bring in rigidity. An open mind will capture diversity better. This happens when managers get experience of working in different country or culture settings.

    Its always good to see organizations staffed with people of different backgrounds. Organizations as well as nations too benefit – please read http://tiny.cc/6vnfh

    Thanks aplenty Shantanu and regards,



  11. Shantanu says:

    Diverse, Diversity….. Why do we keep looking them at in “Structured” perspective: as in diverse cultures and like wise?…. I would prefer to put diversity in terms of experiences… Every experience teaches us various things, especially the very basic thing is acceptance/tolerance/flexibility/being non-rigid in our ideas/thoughts/notions… the best example of this is you sir…

    An organisation is made up individuals and I believe more “diverse” nature of experiences an individual has the more the organisation gains from it; and it may not be particularly restricted to the boundary of the “organisation” itself. It should transcend to all the organisations that we are associated with, the various organisations we belong .. family, school, college, and others like wise…

    If we are able to do it collectively then the organisation called “Nation” benefits the most and collectively all the other constituent organisations as well…..


  12. Great comments. Great subject. I am the head of Human Resources at the Australia Federal Police (AFP). I am committed to enrich diversity in the AFP. The Australian Government is committed to it; my staff are committed to it; I am committed to it. From cultural and linguistic diversity; to spiritual diversity; gender balance and sexual orientation.

    I will be visiting Hydrabad soon to give a presentation to the Indian National Police Academy and will also meet with the Indian School of Business. I hope to gain some insights into a range of management and HR issues.


    Stephen Walker


    • Dilip Naidu says:

      Hello Mr. Stephen,

      A warm welcome to you and an honor indeed to have you call by. The commitment to diversity by the Australian Government and the Australia Federal Police (AFP) is highly commendable.

      In India we speak different languages, have different cultures and different religions yet deep within us are all Indians. Though we at present are undoubtedly facing many problems that are complex yet the motto ‘Unity in Diversity’ remains the distinctive feature of our culture.

      It’s great to know of your forthcoming visit to the Indian National Police Academy at Hyderabad and to the prestigious Indian School of Business.

      Best regards and good wishes!



  13. chaitanya says:

    To modern corporations,globalization has thrown a challenge to manage diversity. It is about recognizing & accepting uniqueness of individuals to drive higher performance. In that case we can review following points:

    1. If the task is team oriented, routine, & highly standardized, diversity may hamper it.

    2. Can we think of diversity as Right brain vs. Left brain, Different levels of Big five personality factors, Leadership vs. Follower-ship etc. than mere culture & demographies?

    3. Is it about diversity or about underlying behavior due to diversity that will facilitate higher performance? (In that case behavior modification can be focused)

    4. How to justify that performance is contributed by diversity?

    5. Finally, is it not firm’s strategy that will decide what kind of response is expected from workforce? (Think of Indian railway Vs. IBM)
    Due to its structure, Railway needs unified command, control, co-ordination & professional bureaucracy. So there will be pros & cons of diversity & it to use it as generalization may required further inspection.


    • Dilip Naidu says:

      Dear Chaitanya,

      It’s interesting to read your views on diversity not being the panacea to all the ills in different organizational settings.

      In response I can’t but help quote two of the nine ‘Values’ on which the ethos of the Army is ingrained in all soldiers –

      (a) Espirit-de-Corps – The spirit of comradeship and brotherhood of the brave, regardless of caste, creed or religion. The motto is, “One for all and all for one”!

      (b) Non-discrimination – The Indian Army does not discriminate on account of caste, creed or religion. A soldier is a soldier first and anything else later. He prays under a common roof. It is this unique character, which makes him bind in a team despite such diversity.

      The Army is a great example of leadership follower-ship and camaraderie. Large organization like Railways or Army surely needs bureaucratic structures. As originally conceived by Max Weber there are positives in bureaucracy but now it needs to be an ‘enabling bureaucracy’.

      On the Right and Left brain issue my knowledge of pure psychology is rather limited. But what little I know – I do believe that my ‘star’ candidates in a Selection Interview would be ones who have ‘a balance of both’.

      Yes it is a HR challenge to link a firm’s performance directly the intangible factors such as Diversity. To develop Diversity a number of other measures may be needed. Above all a culture that has a ‘geocentric mindset’ as its bedrock.

      Chaitanya I always remember you as a thinking person. And I respect your views as they stimulate the mind and encourage debate. That’s how we all learn.

      So a big – thank you! Best regards.



  14. Geetha says:

    Diversity and Inclusion

    Yes Sir! It’s great to have Lubna back!

    We need to talk about including people with various disabilities also. And this is an article that I shared recently with my colleagues at work because I am personally interested in taking it forward.


    Thanks and regards,



    • Dilip Naidu says:

      Dear Geetha,

      Yes great to have Lubna back and read her insights. The Hindu article is remarkable. I like specially what Vijaya Bhaskaran has to say “Sign language has no grammar. It only deals with feelings and emotions”… “While lip reading requires undivided attention, sign language allows the hearing impaired persons to use their imagination”. A great lesson on ‘communication’ in real life.

      BTW the logo creation story of MindTree Consulting continues to inspire me. I make it a point share the same with my students.

      Many thanks and regards,



  15. Dilip Naidu says:

    Dear Lubna,

    WELCOME BACK! The essence of diversity as expressed by you is insightful. I myself relate deeply and respect the diversity of religon, beliefs and gender in word and spirit.

    I feel people from Tier III places have some special qualities and an intense desire to learn and add value in an unassuming way.

    As per a McKinsey reasearch – advancement has traditionally been difficult for women in Japanese corporations. Nissan Motor began a program focusing on mentoring networking, educating women managers. Its effort have helped increase the number of female senior managers. I agree with you that much more needs to be done.

    Thank you and best regards,



  16. Lubna says:

    Dear DilipSir,
    Diversity is important in any organisation, not necessarily an MNC. It is acceptance of diversity of culture which would help a person from a small town, join a large company in a big city; it is acceptance of diversity of religion, which would help a colleague understand why another is fasting during the entire month of Ramzan; it is acceptance of diversity of gender that would help someone understand why a new mother does not want to work overtime and help build in rules to enable her to work from home. Today, in the gender context, there is a lot of talk about diversity in the boardroom.
    I agree, diversity helps in winning.
    Best regards,