Diversity and Inclusion – Obligation or Competitive Business Strategy?

Diversity and inclusion are principles which enrich our lives.  But, as I recently told a colleague, diversity is much more than a mere concept or set of obligations. 

Most workplaces today include diverse social, economic, ethnic, religious and other cultural backgrounds.  An employee’s diverse background largely frames that employee’s perspective on authority, communication and decision making styles, gender roles, responsibility, assertiveness and other traits that deeply affect and determine the success of an organisation. 

Business analysts and leaders agree that, when harnessed and managed properly, diversity and inclusion in the workplace contributes to creativity, productivity and, ultimately, the prosperity of an organisation.  As I recently told that business colleague, diversity and inclusion programs are competitive business strategies. 

Consider three teams of 10 people tasked with problem solving and idea generating:

Team 1:  Everyone has a similar social, educational and ethnic background.

Team 2:  All ten members are socially, educationally and ethnically diverse.

Team 3:  All ten members are socially, educationally and ethnically diverse and have been trained on how these differences affect decision making and communication styles.

In the beginning Team 1 will out perform Teams 2 and 3.  Team 2 will be chaotic.  And, Team 3 will generate few ideas or solve few problems in the short term.

Over a relatively short time, however, Team 1 will be stagnant.  While it is comfortable to work with like people homogenous teams become stagnant fast.  Team 2 will continue to be chaotic.  The real winner will be Team 3.  Team 3 members have been educated on their differences and will capitalize upon these differences.  They will learn what they each have to offer, what others on their team have to offer and how to blend their different approaches to fill any performance gaps. 

The facts are that, over time, Team 3 will out perform Team 1 by more than 50%.  That, my friends, is a competitive advantage. 

To learn more about building strategic teams, capitalizing upon differences and positively impacting organisational prosperity consider attending “Building a Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion”, October 21 at the Halifax Club.  We guarantee it will be time and money well spent and you will walk away with real tools and strategy, not mere concepts.

HR pros is a full-service Human Resources Management company.  For more information on how HR pros can help you grow your business, comply with legislation and develop an HR framework to meet your business’ mandate call today!

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  2. Diversity and Inclusion | hr-pros.ca - 2010/05/09

    […] been published in the May/June 2010 edition of Mingle Magazine.  You can read the original text here.  We’ll post a link to the Mingle article once it becomes available. « […]

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