What does diversity really mean?

by Stephen Conmy

what does diversity mean?

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The term diversity refers to the many different perspectives within a team.

In addition to racial and social issues, diversity is part of a much broader conversation.

Diversity means different genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, upbringings, religions, education, sexual orientations, gender identities, ethnicities, and neurodiversities.

Diversity and inclusion is all about people and teams

It is about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different.

Inclusion in an organisation is where different individuals or groups are culturally and socially accepted, welcomed, and treated equally.

Such differences may or may not be obvious, but could relate to race, age, gender, beliefs, marital status, education, socioeconomic background or indeed how people think.

A well know survey  from McKinsey shows, that:

  • Greater diversity in the workforce results in increased profitability and value creation
  • There is a significant correlation between diverse leadership and better financial performance
  • Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile

A strong diversity and inclusion strategy can help your company attract top talent and drive innovative results. Watch Axel Springer’s excellent explanation of why diversity matters and why diversity drives results.

Seven ways to create an effective and diverse culture

1. Create a sense of belonging and togetherness for everyone.

Obtain the best from every individual by creating a sense of belonging or connection to the organisation.  This results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace. It is also provides heartfelt need of the inner self. This can take time and needs to be unfold and nurtured. It’s different for all of us.

Best practices can be shared. Diversity and inclusion are intimately interconnected and should be worked on together.

2. Authentic leadership from the top is fundamental to success

For real change to happen, every individual leader needs to buy into the value of belonging at board and executive level. With the right level of buy-in and ownership, Diversity and Inclusion will evolve with support.

Leadership needs to demonstrate that it cares, not only through appropriate policies and procedures, but through visibility, actions, behaviours and embracing the strength of Diversity and Inclusion

3. Culture change is everybody’s responsibility, not just the Board.

Good Boards and CEO’s will create the conditions in organisations to foster culture change. They will ensure that every individual sees and understands their role in creating a company values the strength of Diversity and Inclusion. This will be different for each employee, because we all different, and that is the bedrock of Diversity and Inclusion.

4. Create the conditions for Diversity and Inclusion as quotas don’t guarantee anything

Recruitment polices help diversity at Board, Executive or staff level, but on its own will not create an inclusive culture. A Diversity and Inclusion focus includes

  • recruitment,
  • induction
  • ongoing training
  • sharing ideas and practices
  • succession planning
  • coaching
  • feedback
  • openness
  • transparency
  • honesty

Organisations should strive to ensure that they have created conditions where every person can contribute in their own unique meaningful way and feel safe and secure in doing so. If not, organisations must have the courage to admit that and work to change it.

5. Embrace fun and connectedness

Change and challenges should be framed through a spectrum of what could be. This will help to create greater potential for positive change. People don’t like change if there is no rational that they can buy into.  They need to be part of shaping that change, have fun doing it and celebrate it.

Good boards will make this happen.

6. Inclusion needs to be embedded, not just painted on

Real inclusion requires individuals to identify those little behaviours and attitudes that will make a difference to enable those healthy conversations to take place around Diversity and Inclusion. This will help to identify those little changes that will bring about a more embedded approach to Diversity and Inclusion at all levels in the organisation.

7. Ensure every individual reaches their full potential

Creating a culture where every individual can reach their full potential requires investigating the reward systems, development pathways and processes in your organisation to uncover the pain points and blind spots and then finding ways to reengineer them.

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