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This post is the product of a long conversation about the scope of diversity and its extensive nature. Though we don't have all the answers, we can offer you plenty of perspectives. For many managers, diversity has become more of a buzzword than a real force for inclusiveness. As a result, few can explain its meaning and even fewer are able to apply this to their own organisational operations. With all the different opinions on the processes, systems, technologies, and solutions to improve diversity and inclusion efforts, we want to know what this means for your organisation and more importantly, what you are doing about it.
There are companies out there improving their diversity capabilities, though many have not yet figured out how to make their environment inclusive so that all have access to the same opportunities. Is this because organisations are so focused on their processes that they lose sight of their people? Or is it because they fail to identify what diversity should look like within their culture and as a result, have a poor understanding of the need for an equality-driven environment?
According to Harvard Business Review, simply increasing the variation of the demographics in your organisation does not in itself increase the success of an organisation. How a company defines diversity and what it then does with its experiences of being diverse will affect growth and performance. But where does this definition come from and who determines how is it translated into the wider organisation? Every organization is unique, each with a different way of doing things. For some, diversity is tangible, focusing on policies and practices to mitigate the risk of bias; for others, it is about our unconscious systems that determine how we communicate, lead and sustain a culture in an organisation. Determining what diversity means to you is important as no strategic objective will take root unless diversity is deeply understood and expressed from the top down.
A nicety or a necessity
At the end of the day, in the globalized, multicultural world in which we live, leaders will need to learn to create value out of diversity. How you utilise your employees is a personal decision but developing a process of discovery and asking yourself the right questions for your company will do you good. The answers will likely guide you to establishing a culture that promotes equality, in a language your organisation both understands and speaks.
What is your definition of diversity and how do you integrate this, uniquely in your organisation?
The deep-rooted nature of human bias has led some academics and consultants to question the value of diversity training that pins its hopes on educating people to rise above their prejudices. In her book What Works, Professor Iris Bohnet, a behavioural economist at Harvard University, argues that rather than trying to alter people, employers should change their processes to limit the opportunity for bias.