What is Diversity?

Diversity.  The word that is standard jargon in today’s B-Schools.  Oh, it’s not the push it was several years ago in today’s “modern, forward thinking” companies, but lately, I’ve been wandering just how diversity plays into the psyche.

Do companies still struggle with diversity like they did during the post civil rights era?  Are they still finding ways to make sure that women aren’t capped by that infamous “glass ceiling” we’ve heard so much about?  Do companies even understand diversity and how it really works?

Sometimes, companies think the reason for diversity is that a woman might see things differently (don’t think that’s not the case), or a hispanic person might understand the nature of the problem more effectively than say – a middle aged ivy league white dude.

While there might be a little virtue to this thought process, if your company only views diversity in this light, you can bet you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity.  Studies show when we work with someone who’s different from ourselves, we elevate our own performance.

diversity 2That said, shouldn’t we understand exactly what diversity is?  Shouldn’t we at least know what it means?  Here are just a few suggestions:

1. Diversity is more than color or gender.

2. When you’re looking to hire/form a team, find people who will challenge thought…including their own.

3. If you find a manager saying “we want to hire minorities, but there aren’t any here,” throw up the red flag!!!

4. Figure out how to implement GOOD diversity training.

The skinny of it is, it’s more than you think.  If you’re paying attention, at least pay attention to the right things.  Consult with your HR people.  Not the ones who are the pencil pushers/policy reciters/rule book readers, but the ones who “get it.”

diversity1What?  You don’t have those people?  Then you don’t have diversity.  Start there.

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