Diversity Teetering on Insanity– Diversity Needs a Refresh: Diversity Alone Is Bad for Business– Its ‘Inclusion’ That Matters…

Every organization is full of people who look different, talk different, think different, act different from one another, at least at some level… Hence, the primary challenge for business is not just to become more diverse but more important to become more inclusive… consider people’s commonalities– consider people’s sameness… consider people’s sharing common purpose, experience, goals…

This may seem counter-intuitive but it suggests that for business (society as a whole) to be successful must have a substantial foundation of commonality, which encourages inclusiveness in order for diversity to flourish… The misinterpretations of what diversity and inclusiveness mean and what they truly represents have limited their ability to have a real impact and influence in business…

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An organization needs– controllers, thinkers, dreamers, doers, organizers, team builders… to reach the strategic goals and outcomes that define the character of a successful organization… an organization is not sustainable with people– fighting, mistrusting… each other because of their differences… Diversity is ubiquitous and it includes; black and white, female and male, gay and straight, all religions, young and old… the diversity of every individual, slow learner and fast learner, introvert and extrovert, controlling type and people type, scholar and sports-person, liberal and conservative…

According to R. Roosevelt Thomas; long-term success of any business calls for a diverse body of talent that can bring fresh ideas, perspectives and views, understand dynamics and mindset and values of a globalized world… but most important, diversity without inclusion will fail…

In the article Why Diversity Can Be Bad For Business– Its Inclusion Stupid by Sebastian Bailey writes: Research suggests that higher market growth is driven by more innovation and better quality decision made within diverse and inclusive teams… and that diversity ‘alone'(without inclusion) is damaging for individuals, organizations…

Research suggests that ‘differences alone’ lowers– revenue, performance, employee morale and well-being, along with slower decision-making, increased conflict, absenteeism, missed opportunities and more (expensive) discrimination cases… But when coupled with an inclusive culture, diversity delivers higher performance, less absenteeism, more customer satisfaction and greater innovation…

Unfortunately many well-meaning diversity initiatives fail because organizations behave defensively… they only put in place minimum policies so as to avoid lawsuits… and very little effort to develop a mindset of inclusion…

Few organizations even distinguish between diversity and inclusion, let alone measure or target them individually. While diversity can be addressed as a compliance issue and tracked fairly easily, the range of individual behaviors which make-up inclusion mean that it’s trickier to pin-down… Inclusiveness happens when very different individuals feel free to embrace their uniqueness and are accepted as full members of the team. Enforced participation efforts don’t work–

A recent study showed that up to 61% of individuals in a workplace feel like they are covering-up something of themselves in order to– fit in at work. Faking it to fit in; not a recipe for engagement or performance…

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In the article Downside of Diversity by Michael Jonas writes: It’s increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a business strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same; our differences make us stronger…

According to Robert Putnam; diversity makes most people uncomfortable… but discomfort isn’t always a bad thing. Unease with differences helps explain why teams of workers from different cultures may be ideally suited to solve vexing problems… Culture clashes can produce a dynamic give-and-take, generating a solution that may have eluded a group of people with more similar backgrounds and approaches…

However, there is a growing body of research indicating that more diverse populations seem to extend themselves less on behalf of a group’s collective needs and goals, i.e.; higher diversity can mean lower social capital…

Putnam writes; those in more diverse communities tend to– distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and leaders, to volunteer less, to give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference… And if all of this is true– then how can one explain the great melting-pot cities that drive the world’s creative and financial economies?

According to Scott Page; notion that civic lassitude drag down diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest… And if diversity is a liability for connectedness, there is a parallel line of research that suggests it can also be a big asset for driving productivity, innovation… The different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon– diverse teams tend to be more productive…

In the article Diversity Policies Rarely Make Companies Fairer by Tessa L. Dover, Brenda Major, Cheryl R. Kaiser write: Companies spend millions of dollars annually on diversity programs and policies. Mission statements and recruitment materials touting companies’ commitment to diversity are ubiquitous… Many managers are tasked with the complex goal of ‘managing diversity’– which can mean anything from ensuring equal employment opportunity compliance, to instituting cultural sensitivity training programs, to focusing on the recruitment and retention of minorities, women…

However, most programs are not very effective and produce very few if any tangible benefits to companies or targeted individuals… A study of over 700 companies found that implementing these programs have little positive effect and may even decrease diverse representation…

Most people assume that diversity policies make companies fairer… though the data suggest otherwise… Research suggests that diversity initiatives seem to do little to convince minorities that companies will treat them more fairly… Participants from ethnic minorities viewed a pro-diversity company as no more inclusive, no better to work for, and no less likely to discriminate against minorities than a company without a pro-diversity stance…

The implications of this study are troubling for the ways we currently attempt to manage diversity and foster inclusion in organizations. Groups, e.g., white men… that typically occupy positions of power may feel alienated and vulnerable when their company claims to value diversity. This may be one explanation for the lackluster success of most diversity management attempts; when people feel threatened they may resist efforts to make the workplace more inclusive…

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In the article Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Diversity? by Koyel Bandyopadhyay writes: The chief argument against diversity appears to be that some business skills are concentrated in certain places, certain groups of people, certain cultures… Hence, narrowness can be a source of strength and cohesion, not a sign of weakness.

Diversity is a technique, not an end in itself. It needs to be balanced against other considerations, such as; clustering of skills… and companies need not necessarily be ‘representative’ of the population as a whole… business needs much more diversity of thought on the subject of ‘diversity’.

Human beings are social beings and the way they bond with other humans is chiefly through– real or imagined– similarity, which is known as homophily (where people tend to bond with people that they think are similar to themselves)…

According to Robert D. Putnam; there are two human social tendencies; one is bonding connections– to be forged among like-minded individuals… and the other is bridging connections— to be formed between heterogeneous groups… In today’s globalization, individual identities are  becoming increasingly dynamic and the cultural discourse is often finding overlap, which is good news for mitigating some of the distrust and prejudice against diverse groups, and in forming those bridging connections…

The long-term success of any business calls for a diverse body of talent that can bring fresh– ideas, perspectives and views to their work… According to Harris Sussman; diversity is about– relatedness, connectedness, interactions… where the lines cross. Diversity is many things, e.g.; bridge between organizational life and the reality of people’s lives, building corporate capability, framework for interrelationships between people, learning exchange, strategic lens on the world…

According to David Goodhart; in the rhetoric of the modern liberal state, the glue of ethnicity (i.e., people who look and talk alike) has been replaced with the glue of values (i.e., people who think and behave alike)… According to Jane Jimenez; every age faces the human struggle to ‘get along’… but today, at least, we are supposed to be a kinder and gentler age… Years ago, even as mere children, we knew there were many different kinds of people… different languages, cultures, skin colors…and we knew we needed to work to get along… Maybe back then, we knew it, but today we have codified it… 

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We are no longer simply different; we are ‘diverse’… and for business to succeed it require a level of ‘inclusion’– whereby individuals must alter some of their innate beliefs and behaviors– which is why it’s more difficult to realize, but yet so very powerful when it happens… and organizations must address ‘inclusion’ as a cultural issue.

Hence, starting point is a few key shifts in attitude; from diversity alone (delivered at corporate level) to diversity and inclusion (delivered by individuals); from demographics to diversity of thinking; and from diversity as an issue of compliance to an essential facet of business success…