CONSULTATION : Why equity and diversity matter

I am confused between the terms equity and diversity. Can you please explain the difference, and should I be interested in either or both?

These two terms are often seen as confusing. The dictionary definition of equity states that it means treating others with justice, fairness, and impartiality. Whereas diversity is defined as variety of something, such as opinion, colour, or style.
Equity leads to the concept of equal opportunity in the workplace and is linked closely with human rights. It covers wide range of groupings of people. For example, people with disabilities, the sexes, age (young and older), ethnicity, and religion.
There are some hard-nosed business reasons for managers to understand the issues related to equity in their organisation. The prime one being that it is crucial in today’s world that we engage the people in our organisation as fully as possible. Given high levels of education, the ability to move across local and international boundaries and the growing shortage of available people, we need to make sure we provide work environments where people want to fully commit and engage.
Equity issues arise particularly in the areas of remuneration and recruitment. So you need to make sure your managers are aware of the importance of this. It works best if the head of the organisation acts as role model. I have seen number of large New Zealand organisations, both public and private, where the chief executive annually reviews the broad remuneration structure of the organisation.
They look particularly for where women are being paid significantly less than men in the same job, or where young people are being paid unduly low salaries. Everyone in the organisation knows this happens and it has remarkable impact on the attitudes of managers in recruiting and managing generally.
Diversity is closely linked to the same groups defined for equity, but this time it is not about fairness but about valuing the differences between people. If you think about some of the leadership development programmes you may have seen there is usually an exercise where group of people have to solve problem. The quick learning from this type of exercise is that if the leader makes all the decisions then the group may fail its task. However, if the leader enables the differing views from the group to arise and be discussed, then often the group will generate wide range of innovative ideas and succeed.
It is the same in the workplace. If we recognise the value of the differences in views, for example between men and women, or between younger and older people, the result is likely to be an increase in new ideas and innovation in your company. So, yes, you should be interested in both.

Are there some simple headings that will help me cover what I need to do to manage project? I seem to be managing more and more of these at work and have had no real project management training.

There are number of headings that you can use as check-list in setting up and managing project. The first item on the check-list is to make sure you define the ‘functional requirements’ of the project. That is, write down in simple terms the reason for the project, the key objectives and who it is being carried out for. This means everyone understands what they are involved in and what they have to do, including, most importantly, yourself.
Then think through the ‘resources’ you will need to complete the project. large element of this will be people, so make sure you define the skills and experience needed and what is expected of each person involved.
Then you need to define the ‘budget’ for the project. Again this should be written down and you should identify the main costs. simple spreadsheet will often be enough. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
Next, draw up plan for the project detailing key target dates and timelines. You can use simple bar chart with activities on the left and dates along the top. Again don’t try to cover everything. Keep it simple and focused on the key stages. Document what will be the ‘acceptance criteria’ for the project. This needs to cover exactly what the outcome has to be to meet each key project objective.
The smart project manager will do this jointly with the project’s customer. They will make sure they understand how the customer defines completion of the project rather than make their own assumptions.
Finally you should talk through all of this with the people involved in the project to make sure everyone is on the same wavelength. At the same time you should identify any inherent risk areas. This will enable you to understand where to place your management focus.

Kevin Gaunt, FNZIM, FAIM, is CEO of NZIM Auckland and has been senior executive with, and consultant to, some of New Zealand’s largest companies.

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