Diversity and Its Globalization

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The meaning we Americans give to “diversity & inclusion” reflects a combination of hidden assumptions and core values that's found nowhere else except here in the United States.

That’s why the intention of multinational U.S. businesses to export their diversity & inclusion policies and practices to their units abroad is far more problematic than anyone imagines.

Why does GROVEWELL understand these challenges while other consultancies do not? Because GROVEWELL's partners and senior associates are all anthropologists and interculturalists. We’re trained to notice the nuances in human relations within and among cultural groups.

Access GROVEWELL 's nine publications concerning U.S. firms' globalization of diversity & inclusion.

The Learn More button will bring a reply from partner Cornelius Grove. Or phone him at +1-718-492-1896.


American multinationals have a unique perspective on human differences, one that’s arisen out of historical and cultural factors that are distinct to the U.S. That perspective is Right and Good for us.

Perhaps it can become Right and Good for peoples abroad as well. But the export of our home-grown perspective needs to be cautious, paced, and mindful of others’ unique histories, cultures, and values.

What is the challenge of globalizing U.S. diversity & inclusion?

The challenge is to globalize two key values of U.S. diversity & inclusion, tolerance and respect, in a way that demonstrates tolerance and respect for the values of employees in the units abroad.


GROVEWELL’s own research has confirmed what social scientists already knew: People outside the U.S.

  • do not put nearly as much effort into categorizing one another into groups (“Generation Y,” “Hispanics,” “women managers,” etc.) as we Americans do; this includes being less preoccupied with the “race” concept.
  • often assume that inborn, inherited human differences, not achievement, are a proper basis for assigning certain types of people to economic or social roles.
  • are generally comfortable organizing their lives around the notion that some individuals or types of people have more intrinsic worth than others.
  • view discrimination (evaluating and sorting other people) as a desirable skill and socially useful activity, a meaning similar to Americans’ use of “discriminating.”

GROVEWELL’s own research was carried out with individuals from Japan, Germany, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. We found that people in those four cultures

  • were not preoccupied with “level playing fields.”
  • rarely spoke of “diversity” in reference to human beings.
  • did not recognize the meaning Americans give to “diversity.”
  • did not necessarily admire us for promoting our American values to them.

Americans have long been criticized for being “cultural imperialists,” for assuming that our ways are the top stage of human development and should be adopted by others. GROVEWELL will not be part of that.


This chart depicts GROVEWELL's philosophy about the differences between U.S.-domestic diversity initiatives, and global diversity initiatives:

MEANS • Focus on demographic inclusiveness.
• Change people-related behaviors.
• Transform hiring & promotion practices.
• Focus on competency-based heterogeneity.
• Change business-related behaviors.
• Transform infrastructures & systems.
ENDS • Demographic inclusion in the workplace.
• Fairness, equal opportunity in promotions.
• All types of employees valued, accepted.
• Broader appeal to customers at home.
• Adaptability across borders and cultures.
• High performance with global partners.
• Employees at all levels are globally-minded.
• Broad appeal to customers around the world.

Access GROVEWELL's nine publications concerning U.S. firms' globalization of diversity & inclusion.

Access ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS about GROVEWELL's approach to globalizing diversity & inclusion.



Leveraging Diversity Globally to Enhance Revenue and Respect

Decades of diversity & inclusion research have shown that, in business organizations...

  • Human differences can contribute to enhanced unit performance because heterogeneity of perspectives and ideas leads to greater creativity and broader applicability of solutions.
  • Human differences also can create barriers and thus need to be skillfully leveraged; building performance synergy in a culturally diverse, far-flung unit is complex.

Anyone who examines the websites or annual reports of globe-spanning corporations will find that diversity is mentioned prominently.  But how?  In most cases, it's about demographic representation among employees, i.e., about the firm's inclusiveness in hiring and promotions, so that its workforce comprises human differences.

GROVEWELL's experience reveals, however, that opportunities for global growth in revenue and respect are lying unseized when the firm doesn't proactively view diversity in terms of differences in the human values and behaviors of employees, partners, consumers, and other stakeholders worldwide.

Value and behavior differences need to be leveraged.  Until this is done, a firm's global growth arsenal remains incomplete.  Beyond demographic representation lies an informed, systemic approach to globalization that…

  • embraces new patterns of thinking and behaving grounded in business-oriented intercultural research; and
  • generates infrastructures, systems, and processes that support the leveraging of human value differences in ways that increase the firm's revenue, and the esteem in which it is held, in its global markets.

For more insights, visit GROVEWELL's webpage that discusses Worldwide Talent Management.