Reflecting on how the American workplace has changed as we have transitioned from the old century to the new one, diversity stands out as a significant topic. More than ever before, organizations of all sizes have recognized that diversity adds value. Major corporations have taken the lead throughout this development as misunderstandings about diversity have continued to evaporate.
Employees sometimes approach their organization’s diversity training program with a preconception that is far from the truth. Employees sometimes believe that diversity means that the company wants to change each individual’s values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs. However, if diversity training is administered correctly, then nothing could be further from the truth. You are entitled to your values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs. I am entitled to mine. Your values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs are part of what make you you and me me.
On the contrary, diversity celebrates those differences. It respects those differences. Simultaneously, it reinforces that you do not have to agree with or embrace the other person’s values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs. Again, they are part of what make you you and me me.
Fundamentally, diversity training aims simply to raise awareness. Increased awareness does not equal agreement. It does, however, create respect.
When we choose to celebrate and embrace diversity, we add value. Adding value drives profitability. How does this happen? The answer is seen in the simple diversity principle of blind spots. If I surround myself with people just like me, then it becomes very unlikely that I will ever identify my blind spots. However, if I surround myself with people who are different from me, then it becomes very likely that I will identify my blind spots, learn how to compensate for them, and be receptive to my diverse group’s input. This is a two-way street. My diverse group will also benefit from the insights that I offer to them, insights that derive from my being different from the group.
Repeatedly, it is the diverse group or organization that performs better than the homogenous one. The superior performance is naturally rewarded with improved quality, customer experience, sales, and growth. This is why increasing numbers of companies are making diversity a top priority. For many, it is named as one of their core values.
Our increasingly complex world is not going to become any easier to navigate. Nevertheless, as more organizations engage in diversity deployment, everyone stands to enjoy diversity dividends.