The 3rd European Work-Life and Diversity Conference

Announcement from The Conference Board Europe: Work-Life and Diversity strategies have proven to be of key importance in maintaining morale and productivity in periods of economic crisis. Though some costly programmes may be reduced during this period or their implementation delayed, these fundamental strategies need to be kept on track. Managing an increasingly diverse workforce in times of insecurity and conflict presents new challenges for management. Whilst cultural and ethnic diversity of the workforce is being identified as a strategic tool for product innovation and the development of new markets, more tacit knowledge is badly needed for this newly emerging field. Methods of using flexible work strategies, as an alternative to reducing the head count, are being developed by many leading European companies. Yet the overall cost-benefit of these strategies is still being defined. Programmes of support and counselling for distressed workers have become important tools in managing situations. In short, the work–life agenda is growing to not only encompass the issue of controlling work-overload and managing stress, but to utilizing a diverse workforce to deliver the maximum value to the customer. At this year’s conference you will hear a mix of presentations, case studies and discussions including: Cultural and Ethnic Diversity in Europe – New Perspectives for Business Strategies, Product Innovation and Employee Development for Minority Groups, How the US is Re-Framing its Work-Life and Diversity Agenda, New Programmes and Methods in the Work-Life Field, Linking Health and Stress Management to Diversity policies. Top Issues for Global Diversity will be discussed on a panel with leading practitioners, namely Karen Meyer, Managing Director Global Diversity, Deutsche Bank, Gayle Wiley, IBM Europe, and Surinder Sharma, Director Diversity, Ford of Europe. Facilitated by EMEA Diversity Pioneer, Michael Stuber, the session will tackle the following: Globalisation as well as many forms of cross-cultural co-operation have been steadily increasing for many years. This development was led by the business world. However, recent political and religious conflicts seem to present concrete barriers to reaping the benefits Diversity presents. How can companies deal with such challenges? What is their strategy to contribute to the social and political developments while creating and sustaining economic value? Which are tomorrow’s issues for Global Diversity? More concretely, Stuber addresses some of the hot topics at the interface of politics, society and business world: After the iron curtain had fallen, globalisation was accelerated, and the corporate world manages global alliances, networks and organisations more and more effectively. Also, it seems easier for companies to deal with e. g. China or Israel or some African countries than for the leaders of world politics. Are companies with their Global Diversity Management strategies role models for developing a peaceful world that cares for everyone? After September 11 and more recent incidents, public opinion has become more negative against people who look ‘different’. Already before, xenophobia has re-emerged in many European countries. How has this influenced your Diversity work? Which are some do’s and don’ts in that context? In the US, companies have been actively campaigning for open-mindedness and valuing differences under the Diversity headline, thus influencing public opinion in this direction. How could companies that are leading in Diversity initiate and drive a cultural-political change process that helps overcome race/ethnical barriers internationally, on a societal level and/or individually? Which opportunities and threats can you see in this for your Diversity work? As to further developments not necessarily related to world politics: Which are the two issues / aspects of work/life & Diversity that were not touched during the conference, of which you think everyone in the room should address them in the future?