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Addressing Diversity

Diversity is a critical factor for long-term success. Changing demographics, technology and globalization mandates us to not only tolerate differences but embrace and celebrate the enrichment each difference brings. We succeed when we embrace diversity to a level of understanding that places value on our differences. It is saying, “I am more because of what I learn from you.”

There are many benefits to having a diverse organization. Diversity brings a collection of

experiences that allow adaptability, a broader range of services and a variety of viewpoints to meet the needs of customers more effectively.

Globalization is the increase of speed and ease by pulling together world economies through trade and finance. Technology has made it faster and more efficient than in the past. To capitalize, we need an open mind to global success factors as we plan for our future.

Studies show diversity can affect skill and knowledge gaps; if we are not aware of these, they can adversely affect our bottom line. In some contexts, diversity is approached as a strategy for improving employee retention and increasing customer confidence. A company whose staff represents or mirrors the demographics of the marketplace is better equipped to serve and thrive.

In his book, “The World is Flat,” Thomas Friedman brings out that “As the world goes flat…there will be a gap between cultures that have the will, the way, and the focus to quickly adapt to new tools and ideas.” He says, “the more cultures easily absorb foreign ideas and best practices with its own traditions, the greater advantage they will have.” It is a costly mistake to get stuck in our own little world and refuse to see the world around us.

Diversity issues will change over time. Those changes depend on local conditions as well as historical challenges. Diversity also exists at different levels – superficial diversity such as gender, ethnicity or nationally and the deep-level diversity that includes differences in knowledge and cultural values.

Value Is In The Difference

Valuing differences encompasses many aspects. Can you see past differences to see the value, talent or skill one can bring to the organization? Every team member, employee and leader deserves respect. When we realize what value each of us adds to the organization, then we can begin to eliminate prejudice. Emerson said that our opinion of the world is a confession of character. One doesn’t have to embrace what another believes to believe in human potential.

There are potential negative outcomes for not addressing diversity in your organization. Over time, some of the largest companies have faced challenges with harassment, lawsuits, violence, lost opportunities, employee morale and productivity as well as talented employees leaving.

David Thomas of Harvard Business School says, “In order for any organization to be successful with the topic of diversity, there has to be a diversity champion in the company. That person must be given the authority and responsibility and have the respect of the organization.” People want to know they will be treated fairly and what to do and who to turn to when they are not treated in a respected manner. Success in diversity can be summarized by respecting people as part of one culture… humanity.

For leadership training on handling diversity, contact us! We have experts on our staff who can train and challenge your team on addressing diversity. Contact us today for a free evaluation!

Tammy Holyfield is the founder of Holyfield International, a business and personal development company. Holyfield International works with business professionals, entrepreneurs, CEO’s, managers, leaders and individuals from all walks of life, teaching skills that are proven, practical and get results. She is also a business and personal coach, professional speaker, author and consultant. For information on organizational solutions or to reach her visit or call 619-431-1345. Follow Tammy on Twitter and Facebook for more insights on business and leadership.

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