What does diversity mean? Why is it an important in a company? What can leaders do to incorporate and nourish it? We hear about diversity and inclusion all too often, but do we really know what it means?
Diversity can be explained in different ways. It’s referred to as the differences between people in an organization. This includes differences in race, gender, age, education, and cognitive style (Green, Lopez, et al., 2002). Yes, even cognitive style! We all think in different ways, approach problems from different angles, and reach conclusions through different routes.
5 Dynamics is based on cognitive diversity. Let’s think about it for a moment. If we have a problem that’s the shape of a square and the solution is in the middle of the square, won’t we get to the middle faster if each team member naturally focused on aspects of the problem from a different angle than their peers? Is one team member’s corner more important than the others? From the 5 Dynamics perspective, we need to consider all corners before we can strategize how to reach the center.
Diversity has yet another definition that’s oriented more toward businesses: It’s defined as “acknowledging, understanding, accepting, and valuing differences among people with respect to age, class, race, ethnicity, gender, disabilities, etc.” (Green, Lopez, et al., 2002). Now, this is a good one. As a company, saying you’re “diverse” implies that you value differences between people, not that you just hire people of diverse backgrounds.
Why should you bother with diversity? Is it all only about getting to “the center of the square” (i.e., reaching your goals faster)? No. Diversity and inclusion builds trust within your company. Seeing people of different backgrounds being treated fairly increases the feelings of inclusion and belonging within your workplace, which fosters a sense of safety among your employees (Downey, van der Werff, et al. 2015). This cascades into greater work productivity and greater competitive advantages for your company. Not to mention, young professionals tend to look for an inclusive workplace while job-hunting, so your company’s desirability among job-seekers will increase. Hiring a more diverse workforce leads to even greater feelings of inclusion and even more desirability to job-seekers, and the cycle continues to build.
How can you create a more inclusive workplace? As a leader, you must lead by example! Make sure your actions and words confirm your high regard for diversity in all respects. As a decision-maker, be sure that your company designs programs or processes that deliver the message of value for diversity and inclusion that makes all feel respected and welcomed.
Leaders face many challenges and, as a leader, the burden is on your shoulders. After all, when employees see their leader support a value that the company claims as its own, they are more likely to follow suit (Downey, van der Werff, et al., 2015).
Incorporating and supporting diversity and inclusion in your company is tough to fulfill on your own. If you find this difficult, there are tools out there to help this process. 5 Dynamics helps focus on each individual’s strengths and what they can bring to the table. By identifying, celebrating, and using each person’s strongest energies, we can increase employee engagement, happiness, and bring in results! Contact us today for a free consultation!
Downey, S. N., Van Der Werff, L., Thomas, K. M., & Plaut, V. C. (2015). The role of diversity practices and inclusion in promoting trust and employee engagement. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 45(1), 35-44.
Rahman, U. H. F. B. (2019). Diversity management and the role of leader. Open Economics, 2(1), 30-39.