You need to be diverse in your diversity

One of the benefits of diversity is that it helps avoid a monoculture. Diverse people will bring their diverse backgrounds and life experiences into their work thinking and decision-making. By Cathy Parker.

What does diversity mean to you and your business and why is diversity important? For too many people it is either shorthand for gender balance or else a tick-box exercise to say we have done this, therefore we embrace diversity.
I am not saying that gender balance is not important, because it is. But diversity is a much wider ranging construct.
If your business is not truly diverse and does not actively look to recruit from all areas of society you may be missing out on some of the potentially best employees because they did not fit your perceptions (unconscious bias).
Or, if you have employed diverse people, but not taken steps to ensure they can bring their whole selves to work and feel comfortable and safe in your work environment, then you won’t get the best from your staff. Or they might leave and go to a competitor – to your detriment.
One of the benefits of diversity, apart from opening up a larger pool of potential employees, is that it helps avoid a monoculture, diverse people will bring their diverse backgrounds and life experiences into their work thinking and decision-making.
Diversity includes amongst other things:
•    Gender.
•    Sexuality.
•    Gender expression.
•    Disability.
•    Ethnicity.
•    Nationality.
•    Religion.
•    And even socio-economic background.
Beyond that we have what Mai Chen terms SuperDiversity, where people have several diversity factors, maybe they are female and of a different ethnicity or religion or maybe they are LGBT and of a different ethnicity.
The various flavours of Ticks are becoming prevalent – we have the Rainbow Tick, Accessibility Tick, Gender Tick and CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Tick.
These are all worthy if used correctly but if just used as a box-ticking (pun intended) exercise then you are wasting them.
They should help provide a framework for how your company can embrace diversity and what needs changing now, but also how you should operate going forward.
The real benefit is if you use their implementation to reset your business’s thinking around dealing with diversity.
This also means they need to be championed and fronted by a senior management figure – ideally the CEO.
Once you have the Tick the work does not stop, as the requirements for the Tick are usually minimum requirements, so look to see how you can continuously improve in your diversity initiatives going forward as you would for other aspects of your business.
A great example, which was recently in the news, of the potential cost of not being diverse in your thinking:  In 1968 IBM fired a talented young researcher, Lynn Conway, who had already made some significant advances in computing whilst at IBM.
She went on to Xerox Palo Alto PARC where she developed VLSI chip technology that formed the basis of modern computer CPU’s. So IBM definitely missed out significantly. And why was she fired – because she was transgender and transitioned at work.
IBM has just given her a very public apology 52 years later! (You can read more on this by using the QR Code below.)    M

Visited 31 times, 1 visit(s) today

A focus on culture

Rabobank’s 520-plus New Zealand employees work from 27 locations – places like Ashburton, Pukekohe and Feilding and from a purpose-built head office in Hamilton. Its employees are proud of the

Read More »
Close Search Window