Diversity and Equality is central to every well run organisation not just to meet legal requirements, but to outline procedural frameworks that shape good conduct and behaviour. Hence, diversity training and equal opportunities policies are a must to avoid issues of discrimination.
I often wonder about the issues around difference and that perhaps we struggle to think about difference because people consider diversity to be too complex. I think we can feel intimidated or perturbed by difference, particularly if difference impacts us in ways that requires us to change.
Unlike most policies that are often read when an incident happens or visited when you first join a company, as part of your induction or orientation. Diversity must be integrated into the day to day operations of organisation's to have a meaningful impact.
However, I am always concerned when I enter a meeting room, particularly with senior leaders to look around the room and still see no faces like mine at the table. We are creatures of comfort and feel comfortable when we are around people who look and act like we do.
Have you ever wondered why you feel more comfortable sitting in the same seat at your weekly company meeting or you pick the same bike or spot in your gym class? Our learned behaviours are ingrained.
We are comforted by routine, including others who enable us to be the same. Even when our creature comforts are bad for us and are having adverse health effects, we still have a desire to keep things the same. So, how can we embrace difference and foster change to adapt to new ways of working?
Diversity in Leadership
We must value difference which acknowledges we are not all the same. How you see the world and your own experiences of the world are not necessarily the right way or the experiences of others. We all have a slightly different lense which focuses differently depending on our age, race, gender, sexuality, religion and culture.
More than often, in cultures or environments where things are the same or stuck, it is because we keep on repeating the same old patterns of behaviour and the same old ways of doing things. It is in the doing that people value and respect good leadership that they will follow.
Good leadership must be diverse to enable organisation's to value difference. A mix of different people will help an organisation to adapt to new ways of working much quicker. It shifts our focus and shines a spotlight on the way we are used to doing things.
This has the potential to leave us feeling extremely vulnerable and uncomfortable as leaders, because it challenges our core beliefs. However, a key to good leadership is taking action and being a doer of what we say.
If we embrace diversity in leadership beyond a leadership that merely says we value difference. We are taking a step further than just policy or training to develop a culture that demonstrates it values difference.
A diverse leadership team does not guarantee harmony and there will always be different levels of conflict around varied approaches, cultures and ways of doing things.
However, as leaders if we don’t embrace difference then how can we ever expect change and for the culture within the organisation to shift and adopt a different way of working.
If you would like to join me on this leadership journey why not start with yourself and download the first 3 steps to positive thinking my FREE ebook.