Sunday, 7 July 2013

Embracing the beauty and strength of diversity

When we talk about diversity, our default behaviour is to consider the visible aspects of diversity which unfortunately are limited to the usual stereotypes of culture, ethnicity, gender, race and religion. Yet, there is much more than meets the eye, as diversity is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted.

What humankind seems to struggle with are the invisible diversities - that is to say the personal traits (Character and personalities) and the personal truths. And maybe this is why we find it hard to embrace diversity in its totality.

I've been asking myself what is holding us back from leaving the comfort that we find in homogeneity so that we can embrace and celebrate diversity in its totality?

I keep asking myself what are the alluring characteristics of "friendly environment", as opposed to one that fosters innovation and creativity. Why do we consider a friction-less environment an asset and desired? 

Why is it that we want to adopt such a narrow-minded approach? Why are we failing to see that homogeneity is enemy of creativity and innovation?

I wonder why is that "leaders" go out of their way to surround themselves with people who are just like them. And why is that LEADERS with capital "L" cherish  DIVERSITY and surround themselves with and celebrate people who have different personal truths, personal traits and are different than them?

Guy Kawasaki in his book Enchantment talks about how diversity brings enchantment and suggests that a successful team is one that has:
  • an advocate (the champion)
  • a skeptic (challenges ideas)
  • a visionary (has a clear idea)
  • an adult (makes things happen)
  • an evangelist (sells the cause)
  • a rainmaker (closes deals)
Those of us who have had the luxury and privilege of experiencing diversity in its totality know that it is the catalyst for progress and innovation. We also know that homogeneity can lead to slow and painful death.

So how do we change the tide? How can we champion and advocate for embracing diversity of ideas, personal truths and personal traits? How can we show that homogeneity stifles progress and creativity? How do we show respect for diversity without paying lip service to it?

P.S. I just came across this great Harvard Business Review (HBR) article entitled "Creating the best workplace on earth" and found the first question of their "dream company diagnostic" a testimony to celebrate and cherish diversity.

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