What happens in a workplace is a reflection of the social forces of the society at large. In most societies, there are varying degrees of diversity in the makeup of a population. How does a society thrive when there are so many groups which hold differing values and beliefs? The answer? By tapping on diversity.
Diversity in the workplace is argued to be valuable for companies and their employees, who are also members of society. Being a diverse workplace allows companies to reap the value of its capacity to foster innovation, creativity, and empathy in ways which homogeneous environments seldom do. However, it takes effort to nurture and orchestrate this environment for it to work.
Today, diversity in the business environment is more than just gender, race and ethnicity. It also includes employees with diverse religious and political beliefs, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, cultures and even disabilities. Companies are finding that the moral case for diversity is strong, but there are also financial benefits proven in studies, making it an even stronger proposition. Several studies have identified that diversity has positive impact on company cultures, leadership, and greater innovation.
Examples of innovative, disruptive, and prosperous urban centres are places such as New York, Dubai, London, and Singapore. They are all melting pots with high concentrations of immigrants. Indeed, the coming together of different cultures and experiences makes for a conducive environment for budding ideas.
Read the full article on World Economic Forum: The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming
Diversity has been part of the conversation for a long time. Organisations, and even schools, have departments dedicated to enhancing the inclusivity of different members of society at their institutions. However, some places are more successful than others in walking the talk. Those who have failed to properly embrace diversity are engaged in tokenism, as a practice to do something just to prevent criticism and give the impression that people are treated fairly. It is not true diversity when a minority is hired just to make up a quota, but who is then actually forced by social circumstances to conform to be like the majority in order to fit in.
The value of diversity can also be harnessed by changing how people interact with each other. People need to be willing to be open and accepting of differences, while trying to understand one another. They have to be open to having conversations with those on the other side. This way, we can learn to be more empathetic and accepting. The masses tend to operate in systems designed by the informal and formal rules, and those who influence these rules are the leaders. That is why representative leadership is important in any group, so that different demographics make up the collective voice of their group and lead in the necessary changes.
Questions for further personal evaluation:
- How does diversity benefit society?
- In what situations have you encountered where people having different views made for a better or worse outcome?
- ‘resurgence’: an increase or revival after a period of little activity, popularity, or occurrence
- ‘melding’: blending or combining