One of the fields I am active in is Diversity Management. When I talk about diversity in a business context one of the first question people always ask (either actually asking or it’s the elephant on the table that no-one seems to wants to point out) is “what is diversity?”
It’s a simple and obvious question but there wasn’t really a definition I found satisfactory when I googled it so I decided to write down my own definition. Here it is:
What is Diversity
In nature diversity (or biodiversity) is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet (wikipedia).
Diversity in a business context is about the tolerance*) we have for the degree of variation of people who are different from ourselves within the given ecosystem called the organisation. It’s about finding a balance between being permissive and being prejudice.
This balance in tolerance manifests itself in
Mindset – diversity of thinking
Competencies – diversity of skills
Demographics – diversity of appearance
You can uncover this balance within your own organisation by answering the following questions about your organisation’s culture:
- Are new and radical ideas and approaches encouraged?
- Is making of mistakes accepted as a vehicle for learning?
- Is diversity in behaviour and beliefs fully accepted, both within and outside?
- Are all competency and leadership profiles alike or are they complementary?
- Is the organisation focusing on strengthening people’s strengths or on fixing their weaknesses?
On a personal level you can also assess your own balance, among others by asking yourself
- When you think differently from the group, do you speak out?
- Do you value & appreciate people who think differently from you?
- Are you bringing your whole self to work; Do you conform to the group or are you demonstrating personal leadership?
- Are you authentic?
- Are others authentic around you?
*) Tolerance: I realize that the term “tolerance” also has a live of its own. With Tolerance I mean “the level to which we can endure something”
If you find this definition useful or have additions please let me know