Learn diversity from McDonald
Business leaders across the globe are trying to come up with strategies to deal with diversity, with their manpower becoming more diverse both in terms of culture and race in line with the rapid globalization of their organizations.
In an interview with BusinessFocus, Diane Krieman, a senior consultant from global consulting firm Aon Hewitt, said that if they take a close look at what’s happening at McDonalds, they can get a clue on how to solve the diversity issue, referring to McDonalds’ CEO Jim Skinner as the ideal figure.
Krieman said that the U.S.-headquartered global food franchise is well-known for searching for talent all over the world and has the culture of mixing diversity and making this work. “They are always looking for talent in the stores and their culture is always developing, and he drives that,” she said.
The veteran consultant pointed out that in the globalized world, “diversity management,” or “how to harmonize talents from different cultural backgrounds,” will be the biggest challenge for many companies, including Korean firms.
Asked about a specific case of one multinational Korean firm that has failed in its attempt to internationalize its workforce despite hiring five foreign CEO-level executives, she said that the biggest hurdle was that they had yet to embrace globalization in corporate culture. “They lack in cross-cultural competence. They need to have an understanding of different workforces, very different needs, values and behavior,” she said.
In order to help address the challenge, Krieman, an expert in integrating talent who has over 20 years of work experience in the human resources sector, introduced two important concepts — “below the water line” and “cross-cultural competence.”
She explained that in many cases, people fail to see fundamental differences because they tend to hide what’s inside or under the so-called waterline, stressing that it is crucial to look inside to help them understand each other.
“They didn’t understand what we would call “below the waterline” types of differences that exist between people — communication style, how you lead, how you think and your approach to getting the work done,” she said.
“There are many fundamental differences that people don’t see. We know what we know based on our cultural background. So I think many leaders and executives that move from one country to another might get schooled in what Korean culture is about. But even within that culture there are so many diversities and that’s why we talk about cross-cultural competence.”
Touching on strategy of “diversity and inclusion,” she said, “It can be applied so broadly. It’s not just about one particular culture. At the end of the day it’s about working more effectively together.”
Diane Krieman is a senior talent and emerging workforce solutions consultant in Aon Hewitt's Talent and Rewards Pratices