– by Preeya Daya (PhD)
The latest research in diversity management suggests that conversations about diversity in the workplace should no longer be limited to race, gender and other demographic differences (Bourke, Garr, van Berkel, Wong, 2017). As we face an increasingly mechanised world, Diversity of thought is the ‘new’ diversity goal organisations’ should be aspiring to. When the difference and the unique contributions of every employee is accepted and is encouraged, the real value of diversity is realised through improved problem-solving, enhanced decision-making capability and higher levels of innovation. While some would feel that it is comforting to be in a team where everyone thinks the same way and has the same ideas, research has shown that diverse teams representative of diverse thought out perform homogenous teams (when everyone, regardless of background, thinks in the same way). This means that workplaces that want to see improved business results should focus on how to value the unique contribution each employee has on offer, and encourage collaboration to achieve better team and business results.
There are a range of diversity solutions organisations are seeking, based on their context and strategy. Some organisations are rife with tension caused by notions of difference, some are looking for sustainable employment equity solutions, and others are advanced in their diversity goals and are looking for ways to enhance their productivity and profitability through harnessing the unique talents of all staff.
UEL recently offered a customised course on diversity. The course commenced with an understanding of the range of ways in which we differ as individuals and groups, and how this impacts on how we work. The course then focused on the diversity goal or intent of the individuals or organisations attending the workshop. The final outcome of the course was to enhance respect and acceptance for one another, through building an understanding of difference, intersectionality and identity.