I’m working on a presentation about diversity for the upcoming Gartner Business Process Transformation and Management Summit in London next month. As I was designing the presentation, I cataloged some of the potential areas of diversity that could be discussed. There are lots of them, including:
- Social styles
- Cognitive styles
- Learning styles
- Decision making style
- Leadership and management styles
The underlying premise of the presentation is that diversity is not a ‘nice to have’ idea and encouraging diversity is ‘the right thing to do.’ Instead, the facts tell us that diversity is good for business. Data collected from a number of sources show that:
- Top quartile for racial, ethnic or gender diversity have financial returns above national industry medians
- Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above average returns.
Diversity also has other positive effects.
- Bigger pool of talent when hiring
- Wider range of customer orientation
- Enhanced employee satisfaction
- Improved decision making
- Increased innovation
Since the session is only 45 minutes, I decided to put aside the more traditional diversity topics of gender and ethnicity in favor of notion that needs more attention: thought diversity (more on this topic later). I thought that since gender and ethnicity have been discussed for so many years, surely everyone had been sensitized to the need to speak and act without bias and with respect for difference.
Perhaps I was too generous in my assessment. Maybe it is time for a refresher course on how important language is. The words we use shape our attitudes and our actions so we must be mindful of what we say and respectful to all. Civil discourse is a critical part of the foundation needed for making progress.
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