What does DIVERSITY mean and what is it all about? It is after all quite a wide topic.
Following on from the acrostic I developed for inclusion here’s my take on how I think of DIVERSITY.
We are all different in different ways and Diversity is about recognizing and valuing what makes each of us unique human beings. That might be our gender, our ethnicity, our social background, our sexual orientation and gender identity, whether we have a disability, and many more attributes
We are not defined by any one or other particular difference – Intersectionality describes how we belong to different groups at any one time. For example a white single parent father, a black married woman, an Asian person with a disability, a lesbian (a gay woman), and so on.
We often define diversity groupings such as BAME* or LGBT+ and then consider members of them in the same way. Variety is about recognizing the differences within any group. E.g.: the experience of a lesbian is different to that of a gay man which is different to that of transgender man or an intersex person, even though they’re all in the LGBT+ definition.
Everything and Everyone
Everything matters and all diversity attributes deserve attention. Whilst we may prioritize a few aspects (e.g. women in the workplace) we have to work on every other type of difference too. A waterfall plan dealing with one topic and then the next and so on takes too long, and will exclude along the way. It also affects Everyone: we all benefit from diversity.
People with diverse backgrounds and identities value seeing diverse role models. Being a role model doesn’t mean you’re perfect – it means you can be a beacon of hope for the future of those like you. This is for people in the company, as well as those in the industry, or society, or even family.
Society / Societal
The societal aspect is about having a workforce that reflects the societies that we operate in as well as the ones we serve. It is also about recognizing the expectations of those societies and the role that corporates can have in enabling positive social change through their behaviors and actions.
It has been shown that diverse teams enable creativity and innovation so it absolutely has to feature in this definition! There’s a gotcha however, as more diverse teams can be less equipped to enable implementation so one needs to create and foster an innovation culture that enables delivery too.
A little like the never-ending ‘n’ in Inclusion, the timeless factor is that there will always be more to be done. Our understanding of difference changes with time, and with different generations joining the workforce, and the labor market continually flexing with migration, there will always be fresh diversity to welcome.
The You in Diversity is the role that your difference can play at work. It’s about having the confidence to recognize the value that your unique ways of thinking and experiences have value in the workplace and bringing them forward.
Steven has extensive experience in strategic executive leadership having led large business units at Fujitsu. Steven has had full and operational delivery responsibility for $1bn annual revenue business, including sales / growth, of full-service range (consultancy and change programmes, to operational IT services) to multiple clients. Leading business through changes in strategic direction, crisis management, transformational turnarounds especially those delivering business critical services to clients such as Public Sector / National Government. Steven engages well with C-suite executives and senior stakeholders, including in previous roles with UK Government Cabinet Ministers.
Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:
- Strategic workforce diversity and workplace inclusionI’ve spoken with and interviewed hundreds of executives, diversity and inclusion practitioners, executive sponsors and internal […]
- Top 10 Articles on Workforce Diversity and Workplace InclusionThere are thousands of documents in circulation on the business benefits of workplace inclusion and workforce […]
- Leading after coronavirus lockdownsLeading after lockdown Coronavirus has changed how we look at the workplace, probably impacting how we […]
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