As self-proclaimed Jacob Morgan fans and fellow futurists, much of the work we do at HR360 is to keep one step ahead of a rapidly changing corporate climate, to help organisations do the extraordinary with talent. After listening to his podcast with Anka Wittenberg, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at SAP, it got us thinking more about diversity and the many interpretations of its meaning. In our ongoing quest to explore this rich and broad topic, we take the traditional (and one-dimensional) definition and expand what we think it should look like for organizations.

A cultural fit

Anke says it perfectly when she identifies diversity as a uniqueness, as an asset that enriches our organisational culture, turning us into a more dynamic and productive workforce. The challenge this then poses for organizations and the cultures they're looking to build is how to capitalise on this individuality in order to build an engaged workforce. Organisations that seek a healthy workplace must embrace diversity in how they think, act and innovate. This requires more than just good intentions, but rather an inherent understanding and accountability of the influences of diversity in order to create the behaviour and work practices that best support this. Diversity is more than just a buzzword; it goes more than skin deep. Diversity encompasses the thoughts, beliefs, orientations and abilities that make us unique and help us see the world through a different lens.

The top organizational cultures don't just have bean bags and nap pods; they are places that encourage the multi-dimensional capabilities and personalities of their people and enforce that it's not a competition between the different strengths we bring to the table but that with our uniqueness, we supplement each other. For diversity efforts to be truly effective, differences must be seen as features of the workplace instead of problems to deal with. In this way, we are not asking the individual to adjust to the corporate world but rather, asking the culture to open up to the individual. Creating a highly engaged culture that focuses on employees uniqueness requires diversity efforts at every level:

  1. Build: Integrate diversity efforts into key HR Processes and policies and lay the foundation for efficient & effective HR management throughout the employee life cycle.
  2. Grow: Develop a capable leadership pipeline who are focused on integrating individual uniqueness into the fabric of the organization. This will be key In order to unlock potential within your organization to create a culture of high performance.
  3. Retain: Create a “best-place-to- work” environment by upholding diversity as a core value and part of your overall business objectives. This will ensure an engaged, flexible, inclusive and culturally aware workforce.
  4. Recruit: Establish a reputation that embodies values that customers will trust amidst competition in the market by hiring diverse talent and intellect. This requires looking for complementary, varied skill sets that will make your teams more innovative.          

                                                                                                                                                   Thinking outside the box

The future of a diverse economy is about foregoing labels and overcoming stereotypes that stifle the creation of equality-driven organizational cultures. It is about developing an environment that works for all and requires the belief that change is not only possible but necessary. This will be key in order to reshape what's important in corporate cultures in order to thrive in a disruptive future workplace.

How are you you embracing diversity of thought in your organizations?

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