A Fresh Look at Diversity in the Workplace

Look Beyond Diversity to the Human Underneath

Diversity. Ah… the buzzword of – well for a long time, really. But has anyone stopped to ask why we talk about it a lot? Why is it so important?

If you do a quick google search, you’ll find pages and pages of articles on why diversity is so important. And even lists of different types of diversity.

Here’s just a couple of samples:

“Diversity brings in new ideas and experiences, and people can learn from each other. Bringing in different ideas and perspectives leads to better problem-solving. Working in diverse teams opens dialogue and promotes creativity. The value of diversity is true for our culture, too” ( Psychology Today)

And another one:

“Diversity gives you access to a greater range of talent, not just the talent that belongs to a particular world-view or ethnicity or some other restricting definition. It helps provide insight into the needs and motivations of all of your client or customer base, rather than just a small part of it. And, potentially, as McKinsey & Co and a host of other highly credible researchers have shown, it makes your organization more effective, more successful, more profitable.” (Forbes)

So if this why we should be embracing diversity, let me ask you what does diversity ACTUALLY look like?

Well, it looks human.

It looks like a group of human beings all working together for the same vision. We all bring our own experiences, challenges, strengths, values, and beliefs to the workplace. And we all combine to work for the same vision.

If you’re still hiring people based on inclusion or diversity targets, then you are completely missing the point and I’ll ask you to stop right now.

Because none of that matters. What matters is the passion inside each person. Their own core values. Their life experiences.

You’ll find any number of studies around how people with a disability work harder, are more loyal, have more fun and bring more laughter to a workplace than those without. You’ll find countless stories of how people from other ethnicities bring a new liveliness to a workplace culture.

And you know why?

Because they are people. Just like you and Me. So why do we feel the need to hire based on these characteristics? Because society has always shunned them as being ‘different’.

So if we throw society out the window (which I highly recommend you do often, it’s very liberating) and look at the person’s passion, values and vision for their own life you’ll see a brand new perspective.

Easier said than done right? I’m sure you’ve still got generational biases living in your workplace culture. And that’s a slow slog to remove – because they are generational.

Rather than being focused on this challenge, as a leader, I encourage you to move the communication away from the differences of each other and get your team to embrace the vision of the organisation and focus on how they contribute to that. Because if you create your culture from a strengths-based point of view – then you’ll find this an easier process.

Because the only way forward for our future of leadership is to become a truly human leader. One who cares about their people, who creates an environment for them to flourish and who allows them to go home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled. When this happens, we will find reduced mental health issues, higher acceptance of differences and a stronger community.

So when you’re looking to build your A team, and to create an environment where people feel valued, and appreciated and give fully of themselves to your cause – look beyond ‘diversity’.

Look for humans. Because that’s what we all are, and that’s where you’ll find the right fit for your organisation.

Emma Rhoades is owner of Culture Shift and Her Corporate Journey. Both companies designed to build a truly human leadership capacity amongst our organisations. She believes we can care for our people and get amazing results and build cultures where we ALL feel valued and appreciated. You can follow her on Linked In, or at www.cultureshift.com.au or www.hercorporatejourney.net

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