Many years ago, after graduating from university, I strapped a backpack to my back and set off for a year of travel ‘round the world.
As you can imagine, I came back in awe of the wondrous and diverse world we live in. Naturally, we want to celebrate that diversity, and acknowledge how all cultures and people contribute to the tapestry of life.
However, the biggest insight I brought home from my travels—so great it underpins the work I do today—was not the recognition of what makes us different, it was the recognition of what makes us the same.
I admit, when I read about diversity management initiatives in organisations I don’t get excited. One reason is, and let’s be honest here, for most organisations diversity management is a strategic business move.
The architects of the programs are aware that a high-performing, effective workplace is based on mutual acceptance and trust, where all employees are recognised and valued, and where differences in talent, background, and thus ways of thinking can be leveraged to support achievement of the organisation’s goals. It’s more of an obligatory nod to diversity than a genuine celebration.
The other reason I don’t get excited is because diversity programs focus on “what makes us different” and rarely, if at all, on “what makes us the same.”
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