When we think of diversity and inclusion in our organizations there are two things that we normally think about and both are problems. The first is that we tend to think of diversity only in terms of women and culture, and of course there are many other types of diversity! In fact, the real heart of diversity that brings business benefits is actually a diversity of thinking – a worldview difference between you and the other people in your team.  

This means that we don’t just look at gender and culture but we look at a variety of different diversity lenses. These lenses might include sexuality; they might include physical ability and disability; they might include age and different generations. You might also want to look at socioeconomic background, family status,education and professional development.

Personality types are also very often overlooked.  The difference between an introvert and extrovert; the difference between somebody who likes to work in a team and somebody who doesn’t; and then finally the team functioning themselves. There are many different profiling tools and models that will help you to understand that people are very different – on a variety of different categories.

As a team leader, putting a team together and trying to get the benefit out of different world views and different approaches and mindsets, you really do need to be thinking about this broad range of diversity.

Which leads to the second issue that needs to be rethought – that is that diversity is often just thought of as a compliance issue. Maybe in your country there’s an actual legal requirement to have certain types of diversity at certain levels of your organization, and so diversity just becomes a checklist – something that we tick off and then when we see we’ve got the right people in the right spaces we think we’ve done our job.

We need to go well beyond just that level of diversity.  In fact, that level of diversity is more like a variety –  like a zoo. You’ve got all the animals, they’re all there –  you can walk around in tick them off, but they all have to be in their own little cages.  They don’t survive as an ecosystem – they need a lot of external referencing, thing they need a lot of external resources to come in and make the whole thing work.

[bctt tweet=”To get real value from diversity we’ve got to move from this zoo mentality to an ecosystem mentality.”] kind of like a wild or a safari park when all the animals are interacting in their natural environment, and they’re able to work together. This doesn’t make it nice for everybody – the antelope still gets eaten by the lion, but when the antelope dies it gets eaten by the little bugs in the grass and becomes fertilizer for the grass and the lion is exactly the same. We know this circle of life and we really need that circle of life in our businesses.

That circle comes from looking for not just variety, but looking for inclusion. Looking for diversity that actually brings business benefits.

So – do you have a zoo, or do you have an ecosystem? Are you getting benefits from diversity, or is diversity just a headache for you and your team? If you need some assistance in making sure you move from the zoo to the wild as you move from a compliance mindset to a benefits mindset make sure you contact our team and talk about leading difference with one of us.

TomorrowToday Global