April 02, 2019

INTERNATIONAL LAW: Cross-Border Diversity Initiatives for Recruiting and Retention

Donald C. Dowling Jr.

Equal employment opportunity and diversity play a huge role in U.S. domestic human resources administration and employment law compliance. So it might seem that, when it comes to propagating workplace diversity globally, American multinationals enjoy a clear head start. But very different demographics abroad make this head start less advantageous than it may at first appear. Indeed, in some contexts overseas, too much experience with U.S. diversity initiatives might even be a drawback.

How, specifically, does a multinational drive equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance and foster workplace diversity across jurisdictions? U.S. EEO and diversity tools were originally honed for the atypical, rarefied environment of U.S. discrimination, harassment, and diversity law and for the unique demographics of the United States. So they do not always work well abroad, at least not without significant retooling.

Employers promoting diversity across borders must begin by confronting a tough but central question: What do we mean when we say we want “diversity?” Very different demographics and “core diversity dimensions” overseas mean that the answer will not be the same abroad as it is domestically within the United States.

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