Monday, December 28th, 2015

RESPECTING DIVERSITYNG DOESN’T MEAN BLAND

Thinking about  organizations during holiday times is what made me think of diversity. I spent many years helping to create organizational cultures that were healthfully diverse. Diversity equals health whether in your leaky gut or of the heart of your company. Differences are not the final touches or the window dressing of health. They are the embedded potential for change and adaptation and possibilities for the future.

OK! That’s my stance and I just did my lecture. Now the practicality issues.
There seems to me to be only two choices that carry the least risk during these times of hair trigger sensitivity and litigation.  One is to mute all differences, to write policy that tries to smooth out differences and which comes terribly close to denial. 

OR to allow and promote all the wild differences that exist. Give it all expression of some kind. Write a policy of inclusion not exclusion in the name of fairness.
Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Festival of lights of India, The Water
 Festival of Thailand and any and all others.  

As a top leader, protect the right of differences to be expressed. Do it explicitly.
Moderate it. Of course, it is not the primary focus of your business. But people feeling safe to be who they are and seen as they are is fundamental to your work. It is in the stew, the melting pot, the mess of differences that the richness of talent, the surprise of skills and the x factor of commitment and engagement become real assets.

Don’t settle for bland. Be bold. Stand for differences. Teach that expressions of difference are fundamentally valuable.

Happy Holiday—whatever that may be for you.

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