Guest post by Kim Campagne
There are two main reasons why diversity is essential to an organization’s success: one is the pragmatic and essential need of different ways of thinking to make improvements and tackle problems ethically and effectively within the organization. The other, is the need for socioeconomic stability, through social justice and equity, in order for a place and all its residents to prosper.
Our world is increasingly globalized and fast-paced. Organizations go through continuous change and adaptations. In the process of growth, it is therefore vital to have innovation and diversity of thought – of ideas and strategies. The only way to keep up is by pooling diversely talented individuals who consider what people need or wish for in present and future.
It may be easy to come to a solution and compromise when everyone at the conference table thinks and feels the same way about a problem, but will this solution be well-thought out and will it consider different aspects and repercussions?
When a mix of voices collaborate, the result is a thorough plan more likely to succeed; a strategy that caters to a diverse public and demonstrates an in-depth understanding of society, politics and the economy from various perspectives.
Society is hierarchical and suffers from sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression. Opinions coming from the oppressed are dismissed and given less value. Diversity of thought therefore means being inclusive of people with different backgrounds, cultures, specializations, talents and privileges: race, gender, sexuality, economic situation, (dis)abilities. By recognizing diversity as essential, every voice is given strength and value. Otherwise the risk is social unrest, injustice and corruption which causes decline and stagnation.
A friend of mine, an Iranian woman went to work in a team with only Swiss white men. Her work environment in this situation was no longer a safe space. She felt she had to continuously reassert her position. Her coworkers would switch to speaking the local dialect that only she couldn’t understand. Even if it happens unintentionally, this was an environment that excluded her and left her without anyone to back her up. For this reason, to create a safe space for all staff members, feminism is gaining a strong foothold in today’s world.
Humanity is diverse, which means organizations that represent and work for humanity and progress – for its governments, institutions and communities - should reflect that same diversity. Difference is exciting, challenging and inherently human.