As diversity continues to become one of the most important words in the HR dictionary, more and more organisations are beginning to realise the importance of having a workforce made up of different backgrounds in order reflect their customer base.

Most recently it was the turn of the UK’s police force. Whilst this is an organisation where senior roles are traditionally occupied by those who have risen through the ranks, last month the College of Policing announced the launch of a new recruitment programme which will select 20 experienced leaders from outside the force who will be fast tracked into positions such as superintendent. The target is to attract talent at leadership level from a wider range of backgrounds in order to drive a more diverse culture within the force.

Policing Minister Damian Green justified this move by stating that the future success of the police depended on “attracting the best and brightest to careers in the force”. The head of the Metropolitan Police Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has gone even further, and backed the idea of a 50:50 recruitment process to increase the representation of ethnic minorities in the force. This process would, according to Hogan-Howe, get the Met “looking like London.”

However, although it is undoubtedly good to see the police addressing diversity in the recruitment process, it is perhaps also important to remember that we are dealing with a much wider issue than just talent attraction. HR professionals must also make sure that the culture of their organisation is set up in order for diversity to flourish.

If the culture inside an organisation is too rigid and inflexible, even if it does recruit a broader range of individuals, they may simply bounce off this existing culture before they can contribute fresh ideas, whether we’re talking about a bank, a corporation or the national police force.

Although it may well be a positive step to incorporate leaders from other sectors, as the College of Policing plans to, this could prove ineffective unless cultural issues are fully taken into account. For example, we’ve seen in the recent case involving Euan Sutherland, who resigned as Chief Executive of the Coop last month after branding the company “ungovernable” that, whatever experience or expertise an organisation’s leader may have gained in the past, they will have serious difficulties if there is not a match with the culture.

Whilst recruitment is an important part of creating diversity, it is equally vital to prepare a culture for diversity to be successful. In order to do this HR professionals must identify the end benefits that diversity can have for any organisation. They must communicate the fact that having a diverse workforce ensures that you reflect your customer base, allowing you to understand their needs and provide a better service. It also enables you to be innovative within the field in which you are working, and embrace new ideas and approaches in order to achieve your goals as an organisation.

In short, diversity helps you evolve along with your environment and remain relevant within our ever changing society.