I have sat through, and been part of, a number of changes in the organisation I work for. I have heard the company use the word diversity as a way to promote change in our organisation. We need diversity. Without diversity there would be no new ideas. Just the same old, same old. Human beings need diversity to evolve. If there was no diversity in gene pool, then we would still be wallowing around in the primordial soup, with no idea that things could be better. With no ideas at all, in fact.
So, why are organisations, and societies, actively or subconciously, trying to stifle diversity? As a species we should be driving our the human race forward, but it seems we are doing everything we can to stall our own evolution.
Diversity means to accept all aspects of ourselves. It means to acknowledge and embrace the differences, the individuality and the uniqueness that make up each one of us. If we were to surround ourselves with like minded people, how boring would that be? What new ideas and thoughts would be generated? By surrounding ourselves with differences we are able to put a mirror up to our own world view and have it challenged. Have it questioned.
That is a good thing.
Because out of those challenges and questions we move ourselves forward. We change. We evolve.
Organisations are same. After all, these entities are made up of people. Of human beings. If everyone in our organisations were the same, with the same thinking and ideas, then nothing would happen. Change would not happen.
What makes an organisation diverse?
Leaders in our organisations should reflect the make up of the people in the organisation. Surely, just as in society, teams should be a reflection of the cultures, colour, religions, ideals, backgrounds, genders, that inhabit our companies.
So, in an organisation that undergoes reorganisations on a fairly regular basis you would hope that we would be able to embrace the idea of diversity a little more whole heartedly. If people are too look to leaders they need to see something of themselves reflected in these leaders, even if is on a superficial level like:
You need to be able to relate to something. You should be, as an individual be able to look at an organisation and its leaders say
“Yep. I can relate.”
So, back to the specific organisational change that has caused me to put type to screen. After 18 months of dithering and talking about change, a presentation was made showing our new leaders in the organisation. Change was promised. But what was delivered?
An organisation with a woman at the top. Good start.
Next organisational level…
Seven white, middle aged men, leading the various departments.
Is this really a reflection of an organisation that values diversity. An organisation that claims to value diversity? How can you expect to value the ideals of a organisation that is represented by a specific demographic:
It was galling, as during the announcement and presentation of this latest change they called out the leadership as being diverse. Maybe they acknowledged that they might get questions on this and decided to make a point of justifying it. I guess I would not have felt as strongly about this, if they hadn’t called it out. But they did.
We should be moving society forward and putting up, for our children and everyone else, a vision of how we want society to be. One way is to change how are organisations are structured. Giving all people, whatever their background, status, gender, a beacon that they can look to. One that give them the feeling that they also attain success. If they are good enough to do the job, then they should be given the opportunity. That we are reflecting and acknowledging the diverse backgrounds, genders, ethnicities in our organisation.
By pandering to the status quo, or the perceived status quo, that society is made up of white, middle aged males, then we perpetuate the status quo. We stifle change. Because, let’s face it, you cannot going to expect a lot new ideas from a bunch of white, middle aged men! They get a little grumpy at a certain age.
The justification that this was a diverse leadership team? Different backgrounds. Therefore, different ideas. Most have been with the company for a long time, probably an average of about 20 years. Therefore, the likelihood of new ideas being generated is quite low. More likely it will be a rehashing of old ideas, repackaged for a 2017.
How is an individual supposed to feel when you are shown a presentation with nearly all white, male faces and one only white female face? How can there be no-one in the organisation, who is brown, black, yellow, female, male, with the talent to do these roles? The people in charge are not looking hard enough, or maybe do not want to look hard enough?
Some people do not like change. Change is hard. It means we need to adapt. We need to adjust our behaviours. Maybe we need to adjust out attitudes also. We need to make compromises. That is never an easy thing to do. But evolution is not meant to be easy. If we want to better ourselves. If we want to improve ourselves. We need to fight a little. We need to be challenged. Because then we will define better versions of ourselves. We will learn more, that can be applied to next time we face change. And face change we will.
If we go through life hiding from change, then what kind of life are we living? Diversity is a catalyst for positive change. It promotes change that propels us forward. It sticks a middle finger up to the status quo.
In a world where isolationsim is fast taking root, and there is a fear of diversity, I hold out hope that in our organisations we are forward thinking enough to disregard what is happening in the wider world, and push forward with true change. We should not accept that this is how it is. We should be looking at how it can be.