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You're Not Ready For Diversity

Is your organisation truly ready to benefit from diversity or is it all lip-service?

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Following my last post titled "Why Your Team Needs Conflict", a number of people made some great comments (via LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups about diversity and that got me thinking.  Just about every organisation today "talks about" the benefits of diversity and how they welcome it in the workplace.  I feel however that all this "talk" is focused only on the obvious forms of diversity gender and ethnicity.  Whilst these are important, consider the following list (and what you might add): 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Parental Status
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Culture
  • Language
  • Religion
  • Values
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Socioeconomic
  • Capabilities / Disabilities (physical and mental)
  • Education
  • Physical Appearance (physique, hair, eye and skin color, weight, fashion sense, tattoos and piercings)
  • Physical Ability
  • Personality (specifically Introversion and extroversion)
  • Income and Financial Status
  • Interests (music, sport, reading, movies, television shows and hobbies)
  • Thinking and Problem Solving Abilities
  • Life Experiences
  • Interpersonal Skills and Empathy
  • Self-Awareness

(adapted from http://www.selfawarenessworkshops.com/2453/25-examples-of-diversity-in-the-workplace)

Now I've provided this list only to indicate that diversity can cover many areas of the workplace.


Diversity Is . . .

Dictionaries will define diversity as any point of difference.  On this basis we must then give thought to those points of difference among people which will impact the workplace.  Wherever there are differences there is the potential for friction and conflict which must be managed.

If an organisation is going to embrace diversity and reap the potential benefits (of which there are many), they must have the systems and policies in place to constructively manage such diversity.  More importantly the organisation must create a culture which embraces diversity and equip its leaders with the skills to lead and manage diversity (or find leaders who can).

I've seen many C-suite Executives proudly boast their organisation is family friendly and provides flexible conditions to meet parental needs.  In the same organisation I see leaders and managers fuming at the absence of team members or establish unworkable arrangements which hamstring team performance.

In the past I have worked with organisations that certainly do not discriminate against people from other cultures during the recruitment process, however these same organisations are very poor at handling disputes which arise within teams as a result of poor communication caused by language, values and cultural differences.


You're Ready For Diversity If . . .

To go beyond lip service and truly benefit from diversity in the workplace, I would encourage organisations to undertake the following:

  • Know the dimensions of diversity in your organisation and the market place
  • Identify the pros and cons of such diversity
  • Work on creating a culture which truly embraces diversity
  • Ensure recruitment practices cater for and promote diversity
  • Ensure there are policies, systems and programs in place to successfully manage the relevant diversity
  • Apply diversity policies consistently
  • Develop management capabilities to address diversity e,g, training in cultural awareness and conflict resolution
  • Communicate to all employees the benefits of diversity, relevant policies and obligations
  • Obtain feedback on diversity initiatives and perceptions
  • Don't obsess over the numbers, focus on the benefits 

If you're wanting to manage diversity more effectively or include it in your strategic planning process, don't hesitate to contact me direct at mark@intelligentperformance.com.au and we can discuss support and guidance.



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