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"Diversity Is Our Strength" - Is That True?


Hi there. Russell Stratton, President and Leadership Champion with Bluegem Learning. I work with organizations just like yours to help managers be even better at managing individual and team performance, to get you the business results that you need. I wanted to talk to you today about the subject of diversity and how we can actually leverage this to get business results.

We're talking with a group of managers recently who raised the question about how do we leverage the diversity in our organizations, and one of them mentioned Justin Trudeau's comment that he'd made about diversity as our strength. The conversation was about what does that actually mean and how do we make this a reality in making diversity a strength?

There were a number of themes that came out of our conversation which I'd share with you. The first was is that simply by having representation doesn't mean that we're going to get the benefits of diversity. Just because we have a team that is equally made up, male, female, different racial and ethnic backgrounds, different sexual orientations, doesn't necessarily mean that we are going to have the benefits of diversity, not on its own.

Secondly, the compliance with legislation won't in itself bring us the benefits of diversity. Yes, we can show that we have, we prevent discrimination and that we can encourage inclusion, but again, that's not just enough. What we're really looking for is the diversity of opinion and the diversity of thought. We're looking for people's different ideas, their innovation and their creativity. By bringing a diverse group of people together we should in theory be able to bring together the different ideas that they have and be more innovative and creative in what we're doing.

But again, that on itself won't be enough. What we need to make sure to bring this together is that we have a unity of purpose but we have a diversity of opinion and ideas. If we've got a unity of purpose, then we know that we are all on the same page and we're all working towards the same objective, but we may have different ideas of how we could achieve that objective, and that's where the creative piece comes in.

I wanted to give you an example of where this had worked. I was doing some work recently with the University of Calgary, and what they've done is they've brought together some of the top students in the university from different disciplines on projects to look at real world issues. For example, one of the projects they were looking at is how could we be better integrating new immigrants and arrivals into Canada. Another project was how could we improve children's dental health. A third project was how that we could look to end homelessness here in Calgary.

As you can see, there are pretty big issues that often have a wide variety of options available to us in terms of solutions. What they've done is they brought together people from multi disciplines so that you had the real variety of ideas, not just the make up only of different ethnic backgrounds, different gender, able bodied and disable colleagues, but also the fact that what we had were people that had come from the healthcare professions, came from the legal professions, came from business, those that came from the arts, all of them approaching those topics from a different perspective. Everybody wanting to find the solution, but coming at it from a different angle with new ideas. So what they ended up with was some really creative options that they agreed upon to take forward that could have some real world difference.

So bringing that back into the pure business context, remember, we're not just looking for diversity of representation, or just to make sure that we are complying with legislation, but that we're actually trying to get unity of purpose so that we can bring those diverse opinions together towards providing solutions that will be the best for our customers and the best for our business.

Hopefully you found that useful. If you'd like to find more about what I do, then click on the link below at I'll speak to you soon.

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