Apr 21, 2006

Diversity: The Key to Innovation

When someone asks me if diversity is just a feel good factor for organizations, I go on a major spiel about how diversity in thought is manifested due to diversities of gender, region, background, language and culture.

So it's imperative that organizations embrace diversity fast, unless competition forces them to be irrelevant.

However, the most potent reason to embrace diversity struck me one day in my previous organization when I was facilitating a session on diversity and inclusion.

You have to be diverse internally, if your customers are diverse. Simple.

For any organization that puts the customer in the central scheme of things, diversity is an imperative. (unless, of course, you meet the needs of a very specific niche of the population)

The key to make diversity work is another thing altogether.

Like all innovation tools, diversity also needs to be implemented by a change in mental perceptions. Failure to do so, will result in cynicism and disenchantment with the process. It cannot be done by fiat or top-down order. Some change processes will take a natural time to run, and culture is one such thing.

As a boss of mine used to say: "Nature takes 9 months to make a healthy human baby. There are some things that should not be sped up"

Diversity in the workplace, in my view, is one of them.