The complex nature of the world of work demands that we consistently work with others who are different from us. The changing world of work necessitates that work has taken a globalised view and driven by technology. This means that the people from all over the world can work in any field across companies, organizations and institutions. Our acceptance of this demand is an essential positive and forms our every day life of innovation, adaptability and change.
For a company to achieve diversity in the workplace means that organizational policy supports the employment of a wide range of diverse individuals, with different characteristics, abilities, interests, education, religion, gender, sexual orientation, languages, age, race, ethnicity and cultural background. Each of these attributes of diversity comes with its uniqueness which should be appreciated and respected. Nigeria presents a great country example with about 400 different languages and approximately 170 million unique individuals representing these various attributes of diversity. One question that comes to mind is how well diversity in the workplace has worked in Nigeria, across countries in Africa and other continents.
With the growing understanding of the benefits and value of diversity, more organizations are taking deliberate steps to embrace it. These steps are beyond just having an inclusive workforce but includes a principle that promotes and protects equal opportunity across its policies, procedures, systems and affirmation. As a major goal for organizations, strategic reputation capital is earned which establishes the brand. Some brands come to mind such as Shell, Exonmobile, KPMG, Chevron, MTN amongst others.
Variety of perspectives to issues are harnessed by the organization through a rich pull of viewpoints drawing from the variety of skills, background and experiences. This helps organizations function effectively, innovate, develop sound strategies, execute and make good decisions. Diversity provides the space for creativity and innovation as fresh ideas are generated as part of organizational learning with fast problem solving. Diversity compliant organizations experience increased business leadership and profits; recruitment of top talents, reduced turnover of staff and better employee engagement.
It is however one thing to advocate or support diversity and another to practice diversity in the work place. The full implementation of diversity is challenged by gender biases that limit women in career advancement. It is challenged by any form of discrimination either based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or tribe. The implementation of diversity requires respect, understanding, balance and fairness with the consistent communication of the organisational culture of diversity. This will help avoid negative outcomes of dissatisfaction, demotivation, low productivity and high rate of turn over.
Care to share your diversity stories and experiences?