If you log into an “About Us” page on an organization and the people all look and sound very similar, then this is the mark of an organization that is not embracing diversity. Those kinds of pages are a feature of the system, not a bug. It is not heteregenous, it is homogenous. It is extremely easy to find organizations like this, and this post is not the time and place to name and shame, but we will know a few that display this trait.
Diversity is often misunderstood, or used in a very niche way. People hear it mentioned and assume it means “how many different ethnicities are there in your workforce?” but that is just one (important, but limited) application. Diversity is about strength in variety, as much a concept taken from nature as anything else – an expansive, vigorous gene pool full of heteregeneity, a heirloom tomato that is rich and tasty because of its origins away from controlled farming. Diversity in evidence at the place where you work can enhance your life through offering you a greater and deeper range of experiences and interactions. It can help you to consider your own values and priorities and get them into perspective, as well as helping you be more kind and considerate to others. It is a gift of compassion.
Companies that do not have diversity might insist that ‘we have hired the people that are best placed to do the job’: these are the people that have scored the highest, performed the best and that will deliver the best results, but of course, the next question is : by whose standards, and who decided those metrics, and can we set these metrics out into the public sphere? Often this is answered with a simple ‘no’: the measures of selection are opaque. They do the job as you think it should be done, and in order to please you, the hiring managers, but is that really and truly the best way to achieve the company goals? Is that going to lead to record revenue, or just more of the same?
The crux of this is that this kind of change – a change in mindset – is easy to implement, and it is free. There is no infrastructure to purchase, or IT system to put in place, and it can be rolled out and rolled back at will. The cost, in as much as one exists, is going to be the cosy uniformity and sense of security that exists in the aforementioned companies and organizations, and that is the real battle. There will be fierce resistance and it will sometimes come in a bewilderingly subtle ways. There will be many ‘gentle reminders’ along the way that the work that you are doing is unwelcome and unwarranted. Ignore these obstacles but acknowledge the cost they pose to your wellbeing and mental burden. Those networks and structures have been built up over decades, if not centuries, and there is so much work to do to move the dial.