Imagine a world where everyone looks, thinks and behaves in similar ways and delivers the same results - in my opinion that’s a perfect recipe for killing creativity, innovation and limiting business success. World would be such a boring and monotonous place if we were to be in such a homogeneous environment.
It’s diversity that generates energy to be creative and helps us to think beyond traditional boundaries and develop fresh ideas. Having the ability to think differently is a gift given to mankind that needs to be leveraged more urgently than ever before. Ultimately, it is the differences that make us individuals that all have something unique to offer.
I think most of us agree that we need to think broadly about our differences. However, the big question is “Are we ready?” I believe that we collectively need to do a lot more together to move towards a way of thinking that invites leverages and learns from different perspectives to achieve more efficient and sustainable results. But if it’s so simple, why don’t we do it? I feel the key to answering that question lies in understanding how we can be “consciously” or even more importantly “unconsciously” biased to not recognize or appreciate diversity around us. We have, traditionally, learnt to create communities and trust people based on how similar they are. There is currently a lack of environment where all people feel equal - and are valued equally - irrespective of their background, education, ethnicity, nationality, generation, age, working and thinking styles, religious background, sexual orientation, ability and technical skills.
One of the critical D&I issues faced by most of the organizations is the gender gap. While many organizations have embraced the concept of promoting Women in the organization (amongst other D&I initiatives), but how far ahead are we today? If we look at The Netherlands statistics alone, the representation of diversity in terms of women in the supervisory board within the AEX companies today is 26% while there is a 30% non-binding quorum. This shows that the big corporations are mainly led by the male gender. Could it be said that these organizations would be more successful with more women in the management position?
It is an age old belief that women are better decision makers not only in the home front but also professionally. This is supported by many scientific researches done by (amongst others) Google, Catalyst and McKinsey. The last mentioned had an interesting view on the advantages women bring for companies. Let’s look at three important advantages next to the biggest general advantage; more women in companies, mean less shortfall in the active workforce by 2040 (in Europe a reduction with 21 million people is expected).
It is so important to create an environment where all of us can truly leverage the individual strengths, talents and perspectives. Making sure that all people’s voices are heard and valued not only helps attract and retain the best people, but it also helps us build a better world around us and more successful business. Research has shown that today’s organizations which embrace the concept of Diversity and Inclusiveness are much better prepared to grow and optimize their business potential than those who are just debating about it. So are you ready to embrace diversity and inclusiveness as a tool for further development for your organization and society?
Are you making a difference?? If the answer is a NO, then start by defining your D&I objectives, ensure leadership commitment, think of a roadmap and create an implementation plan to achieve your objectives and you will realize through your journey that diversity and inclusiveness allows you to identify the areas of growth and opportunities you might otherwise not see. And let’s not forget, working with people different from you is also a personal chance of growth and last but not least also fun!