Liddell calls for different thinking

Liddell is general partner of the New York-based Fahrenheit Wellness Fund and sits on the NZTE North America Beachhead Advisory Board.  

She was speaking at the recent World Class New Zealand Inspire Auckland event.  

She said that while organisations often focus on ethnicity, age or gender diversity, they can gain huge advantages by assembling teams with diverse skills.

Liddell said those groups that combine in team people with interpersonal, analytical and creative skills will generate “a better outcome, more exciting decision-making and better perspectives”.

“And that is at the heart of why we should care about diversity.”

From wider perspective, Liddell said “it is fundamental building block of healthy society that we involve everybody who has the ability to contribute … and make sure their talents are acknowledged, recognised, appreciated and valued”.

She acknowledged that working in diverse groups can be difficult. “It taps in to people’s prejudices, and cultural, sociological and neurological biases… and often creates tension or raises robust debate. But that is exactly what many of our companies need.”

Conformist thinking, she said, “is not conducive to us being responsive, brave country”.

Liddell said that minority dissent – even if it is wrong – stimulates divergent thought. 

“And the stupid question – someone coming in from the outside and asking why something is done as it is – challenges everybody, and makes people stand up and justify themselves. This is terribly important in group situations or organisations.”

Liddell says the business case for diversity shows three main areas where diversity strategy is important.

• In the innovation area: ideas come from differences. Different backgrounds generate challenge and change.

• In the workforce area: younger people have very different work requirements, are much more interested in work-life balance, and in the mission and meaning of an organisation. “So it’s important to build culture that is exciting and energising and that people want to be part of.”

• In the customer area: “How well are our senior management teams and board tapped in to the voice of the customer offshore?”

She says that when the OMEGA group (Opportunities for Migrant Employment in Greater Auckland) last year asked 41 Auckland CEOs whether diversity was important to their organisation, the answer was resounding no. 

“To many of them, diversity was just another distraction. This is in contrast to what’s happening offshore. We are not optimising New Zealand’s economic opportunities.”

Among other findings, OMEGA’s report “Diversity in Corporate New Zealand: Our Collective Opportunity” described New Zealand’s diversity landscape as “haphazard”. The report said the country suffers from “knee jerk” programmes and mechanisms which do not adequa

Visited 14 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window