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Managing Diversity

When (Live) searching the internet for “diversity and corporate values” the first page shows six technology (related) companies: IBM, Abbacus Technology, Dell, Google, HP and AT&T. Another company on the first page is the BBC; they state in their mission: to be the most creative company in the world.

Creativity could be the goal of diversity. For all those companies creativity is important and diversity may help to manage corporate creativity. It is probably the best way to come up with new solutions and innovations; just make sure that the teams are diverse.

What would be the reason to include diversity rather than creativity or innovation?

The difference between creativity and diversity is that the first (creativity) is a potential competence of people in an organization, whereas the second (diversity) is a structural element of the organization. When a company states to value creativity, but it doesn’t value diversity the solutions of the company will be limited to the configuration of the team. A team of engineers is perhaps creative, but less creative than a team of engineers and sales representatives.

Imagine the financial crisis. The team of financial engineers is developing a solution (more investments in infrastructure, more credit assignments), whereas one of the sales representatives says: “why don’t we inflate the expectations somehow, you are being too negative.” An example of such an action is probably there where Citi’s CEO sends an e-mail to all the employees “informing” hat the bank is making a profit. This simple mail led to a change of perception in the market.

An engineer would probably not Radio have thought of that.

Corporate values have a certain goal and therefore they must fit the company that uses it. In the case of diversity one could wonder whether not every company would need this value.

But diversity is not always required. A credit rating company for example could do without, accountants are another example and governmental organizations won’t need it either.

Some examples of how it can be formulated:
– We respect diversity and value difference of opinion
– We value and benefit from the diversity and entrepreneurial spirit of each individual
– We will honor diversity
– We respect each other and celebrate diversity so that everyone can give their best

Sometimes a statement is formulated as a combination in which the importance of each value is diminished, for instance in; “Diverse and involved teams.” In this case it is not clear what is really meant and valued: (Valuing skills … and perspectives of a diverse team; fostering a participatory workplace that enables people to get involved in making decisions about their work…)

Another view on diversity is its inherent relation with respect. The value of “respect” has been used more often and has somehow turned into a cliché, which makes it less credible. Again as with creativity, there is much less evidence that a company values respect than it values diversity. This is directly visible in the culture of the organization.

 

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