Do Your Global Teams See DEI as an American Issue? – by HBR

“Diversity and inclusion are an American problem; we don’t have this issue here.”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard this from non-U.S.-based employees of global companies. I’ve also lost count of the number of times I’ve heard managers express surprise when their U.S.-based diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts are not as successful in locations outside of the U.S.

To date, organizations across the world have followed the American lead when it comes to DEI. They’ve benefited from the extensive research, data, literature, role models, best practices, narratives, and success stories and have been inspired to address inequality in their own workplaces. But for global organizations aspiring to be inclusive of diverse talent across their international teams, it’s just as important that employees in Paris, Mumbai, and Buenos Aires are on board as it is for those in New York and Seattle.

While biases, discrimination, and inequality exist everywhere, their expression is contextual. To move the needle further and faster, leaders need to address DEI with a diversified lens whose view includes narratives, discussions, and solutions that are representative of local contexts. If they don’t, global companies’ local teams will likely continue to have limited success with their “one-size-fits-all” DEI efforts. DEI will remain an “American issue” and global progress restricted. It’s time to diversify DEI.

To do this, leaders can draw inspiration from the management term “glocal,” a mix of the words global and local. The term was made popular by the sociologist Roland Robertson and describes a management approach that balances the need for global strategies and practices with local adaptation.

Using a glocal lens allows organizations to identify a DEI vision and strategy that defines broad areas of focus while also allowing flexibility for local adaptation within those key areas. Here are five things to keep in mind when diversifying your DEI approach.

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