Many organizations and their leaders pride in the fact that they value diversity, inclusion, equal opportunity and so on. It is beyond argument that a diverse workforce has a greater chance to think holistically and hence, innovate; be a greater draw for talent than someone who doesn’t have a stated policy around this. But the moot question is if diversity is a mere buzzword in the organization and a mandated value or it is really being practiced and the stakeholders in the organization are able to experience diversity a part of their life at work. So, the bottom-line is to live it each day. How do the top leaders do it?
Get the rank and file to see its value!
A value can never be mandated to follow unless it comes from within. The leaders or managers in the organization who are responsible for recruitment of new employees and directing them towards achieving the business results, have to truly believe that a diverse workforce gives them a long-lasting edge in the marketplace. This belief has to be developed and reinforced by a focused approach of leadership development.
Unless the leaders learn to appreciate multiplicity of opinions, work in a collaborative manner with various stakeholders of the business, work on projects outside their own area of work and change roles from time to time, they do not live the spirit of diversity. Over a period of time, people appreciate the contribution made by others in the business; they learn to relate with the thinking of the others and become less critical of viewpoints which are not amenable to their own. A diverse workforce can bring about holistic solutions to real life situations.
Managers who appreciate diversity tend to be picky about the people they hire. They tend to assess a candidate if he or she can adapt well to the culture of working together, appreciate others’ viewpoints and work with the others by the power of influencing rather than by the power of authority. Sometimes, the diversity ratios by education, gender, race, faith etc seem lopsided in a firm and they want to make amends by targeted diversity hiring. Recruiters know, it is not easy to find people who thrive and flourish in multi-cultural environments; at the same time, hiring a certain kind of people in bursts to correct the ratios is not easy simply because of the demand-supply situation. Recruiting right is a critical step towards nurturing diversity in the organization.
Lead by Example
Leaders have to walk the talk. It starts right from the top – diversity has to be visible right there in terms of the mix of leadership talent and the manner in which they recruit people for their own teams, listen to the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders, deal with emotionally challenging tasks, demonstrate maturity in handling criticisms and groom the upcoming leaders. Organizational culture gets defined right there.
Organizations face a variety of challenges due to the dynamism of the business environment we live in. True leaders demonstrate steadfast commitment to listening to diverse views, welcoming perspectives from the others and believing in the fact that diversity strengthens their armour for the long-term. They combine the power of diversity in their team with the other strengths to deliver superior results.
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