Travel guides always highlight the special character of the place and the way that is different from other places. This is often the reason why tourists are visiting these places. This is the same for me. When spending our holidays in Argentine we also went to Purmamarca de Jujuy in the northwestern part. It’s only a little with not a lot to do except to see the multicolored rock formations, that have been created millions of years ago. So here diversity and being different is a crucial value. So why is this not the case if we talk about humans. Being different as a human is not always seen as a value, but more than often as a burden or even a threat.
This question has triggered me for some time now. So last weeks while working on the practical set-up of my company, I also met a lot of people to talk about the value of diversity and inclusion. Having read various research articles and having talked with various knowledgeable people in this area I now have distilled some common denominators around this topic:
- Nobody disagrees about the value of diversity and inclusion for organizations. They clearly benefit and show higher, sustainable performance including the bottom line;
- Diversity and inclusion should look at the value of the differences amongst people and not strive for equality of all;
- Introducing diversity does not start with bringing one woman or one person from another culture in the team. You have to start with at least 2 or 3 so they can support each other and not feel lost;
- The importance of diversity and inclusion has to be understood, supported and voiced at the top;
- At the same time statistics show that the practical adaptation of diversity in organizations around the globe is slow. With the exception of certain (large) corporations and organizations diversity is still struggling to make itself known on the work floor.
This raises for me the question “What makes it so difficult to create more diversity in organizations. Is it the unconscious bias of men (including myself) or could there be also some ‘resistant’ from the target group to take the risk and dare to jump?”
In all honest I don’t know yet (please react if you think you have the explanation). However, from my own experience working with highly diversified (in age, origine, gender, education and more) Agile teams, I have experienced the full value. In these self-organized teams trust, mutual understanding, acceptance and transparency are the key elements for success. In highly diverse teams each member is valued for his/her specific contributions and no part of the group can or wants to become dominant and set the rules of the game. Leading such teams require other leadership skills then before, including the capacity to empower others, to show vulnerability and to acknowledge that others know more on certain topics than you. One often (not always!) find these qualities more present in female leaders.
This is why I have decided to try to make a little wave in the ocean by helping talented women and other underrepresented groups to take the next daring steps in their profession or even personal life and go for leadership positions. I am convinced that by increasing the diversity in an organization by even small a numbers organizations will become a lovelier place to work and to attract the right talent. If you are interested in how I can help you in your next step please send me a pm.