6.2 Valuing diversity
In their 2013 article ‘Great leaders who make the mix work’, Boris Groysberg, an academic researcher, and Katherine Connolly, a research associate in the organisational behaviour unit at Harvard Business School, discuss the importance of diversity and inclusivity.
Groysberg and Connolly (2013) explain that diversity should be perceived as an investment in the most important assets of the organisation’s balance sheet: the people. Diversity is about investing in people. Diversity is necessary because it allows an organisation to stay competitive, to seek the best possible ideas and solutions, and continue to innovate and grow. Moreover, by harnessing diversity, employees feel valued and are therefore more willing to support the aims of the organisation, serve the ‘customers’ (students, in an HEI context) and work together.
At the same time, diversity may create dissent and challenge people’s way of thinking, leading them into deep inquiry or breakthrough.
In the video below, contributors discuss how to value diversity and create more inclusive workplaces.
Activity 13 Diversity in your workplace
Watch and listen to the following videos and audios in which contributors share their experiences of diversity in the workplace.
Consider your current working environment (or a previous one) and list some examples of the diversity among colleagues or students (or other ‘customers’).
How did you find the task? There are no right or wrong answers here, but your list may have included some or all of these categories (Ahmed, 2018):
- race and ethnicity
- age and generation
- gender and gender identity
- sexual orientation
- religious and spiritual beliefs
- disability and ability
- socioeconomic status and background
- thinking style and personality
- personal life experience.
Although you might not have thought of the final two categories, the diversity that they bring to the workplace can present challenges. For example, Ahmed describes the possibility of a team with introverted personalities struggling with giving a monthly presentation. He also suggests that the life experience of someone who has seen active service in the armed forces might bring particular issues to the workplace.
Understanding this breadth of diversity should help you to identify many occasions when you have experienced some level of diversity both in and outside of work.