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  • Writer's pictureTheunis van der Linde

Let's talk about Diversity

Human beings are complex creatures and they are different in every way. Diversity affects our daily lives and more often than not one can respect the diverse nature of human beings, whether based on their culture, ethnic origin, gender, age, or social status.

When it comes to the workplace, however, human beings cannot divorce themselves from the diverse qualities they possess and align to that of other fellow workers. Diversity in the business arena is becoming increasingly important and that if managed seriously, businesses will prosper.

"Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common"

Source: unknown

And with equal importance to take note of, if business leaders pin their future on monotonous diversity strategies and solutions or narrow-minded management techniques, there is a very slim chance (if any) that those leaders will achieve success.

But it is not just about talking the talk - it's about walking the walk.

There is a real need for organizational leaders to show commitment through their strategy development and execution, and abide by constant organization-wide communication if they are to achieve success in building a sustainable diversified environment. Strengthen that by following through with concrete changes in organizational structures and processes, with robust change management, in order to preserve the climate created.

It is imperative that sustainable measures are implemented if a company wishes to successfully leverage diversity to enhance productivity; and, this definitely makes business sense to do so.

The challenge that companies and managers alike face today is that there is such a wide array of 'diversity' aspects present in the workplace and if the processes that should support the desired outcome are not aligned, then the benefits of the input efforts will not be realized downstream.

But how do we define diversity?

To understand exactly what the modern-day organization, leader, and manager are up against, it is important to explore the definition of diversity and all that it entails.

The world today describes diversity in numerous ways, with some that are more alike than others are. However, the important aspect to take note of is not the amount of varying definitions that exist for diversity, but the recognition that the concept of diversity has evolved, and will most likely continue to evolve.

Simply put, there are four common dimensions to diversity that combine to make each individual unique, layered, and a product of individuality, experiences, history, and their environment. Each dimension continues to evolve and change, and the unique combination of the factors in the different dimensions are the real drivers behind diversity.

The dimensions are:

  1. Me (Internal) - Unique to the individuals, and inherently part of them and what they are born into, with characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, cultural identification, gender identity, etc.

  2. We (External) - Related to a person's experiences growing, evolving, and learning, such as education, socioeconomic status, interests, religious beliefs, family & relationship status, life experiences, etc.

  3. Work (Organizational) - Often assigned to individuals or shaped by organizational factors and environments, and distinguish one employee from another such as job function, management status, seniority, union affiliation, department or function, etc.

  4. World (Societal) - Widespread and the result of a multitude of factors, including aspects related to Me, We, and Work, come together to form our worldview. We continue to conceptualize the world and society differently as we have new experiences and learn more about ourselves and each other. There are still nuances within our world-views, but some examples include political views and affiliations, moral compass, outlook on life, epistemology, etc.

Although the concept and how we think about diversity has certainly changed and matured over time, Diversity Management remains an approach that can help organizations focus on increasing effectiveness by maximizing talents, fostering innovation, and tapping into the creativity of the diverse workforce.

Diversity Management, as a conscious leadership decision, is rooted in the following concepts:

  • It is designed to increase business and organizational productivity and profitability, based on the diverse nature of the team members and the value they bring to the table as diverse and unique individuals.

  • It makes use of a variety of tools to help employees work together to drive performance, and does not linger on as opposed to constantly focusing on reaching targets (compliance).

  • It focuses on creating a non-discriminatory work environment, which will naturally draw talent and innovation to you.

  • It forms the base to drive business decisions on economic reasoning, by leveraging the power and value of diversity and seeing and understanding the impact it has on the bottom line.

We still have lots of work to do in regards to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion - three concepts that create belonging. I will follow up this short blog with more on the topic of diversity. Providing my view on diversity and performance; as well as, on often seen barriers and challenges and how to overcome them.

At Helios Consulting we think that we are proof that strength and value are the outcomes of leveraging diverse individuals in a team setting and fostering a culture of inclusion to create belonging. We love nothing more than to work with our clients to help drive value through Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Get in contact with us today to start the discussion. After all, a phone call costs nothing.

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