I have worked in various companies over the years that have used “Diversity” in their company cultural platform. We tend to imagine diversity as meaning all races, sexes, and origins. There is, however, another element to a cultural inclusion of diversity. All people do not think or believe alike. The definition of diversity expanded in popular understanding some time ago to include differences in religion and politics. This still does not strike at the heart of the value created by synergies generated from thinking differently from one another, acting differently to express individualities and relying on differing systems that can be worked together to find common results. Diversity encompasses all of these characteristics and brings them into one place to create new ideas and innovations from elements that might not usually expose themselves naturally to one another. People tend to find similarities that bind them can gravitate toward establishing environments where they are comfortably pursing their own natures without interruption. I truly believe that both types of cultural understandings, both inclusion of diversity and pursuit of commonalities, are healthy.
A common question in pursuing the inclusion of true diversity is the question of finding stabilization. When standards and best practices are usual methods of establishing workable regularities, the concept of diversity can be rather scary and perceived as a destabilizing or disruptive danger. The difference in capturing synergies from encouraging diversity effectively and enabling destructive chaotic change comes from keeping diversity channeled instead of letting diversity manifest without structural guidance. Finding new solutions from synergies in diversity does require less stricture and more freedoms, but historically there has to be a structure of agreed to boundaries to allow the freedoms in diversity to be preserved and encouraged.
It is hard for a culture to incorporate the reality of diversity and often the token differences we can point to are mistaken for embracing “otherness” in others in an inclusive, if not accepting way. If our commonalities ground us in togetherness, perhaps there is a commonality in the foundation of an environment that protects and encourages diversity. Accepting certain stabilizing principles and regulations is not the same as stating that only certain types of diversity are allowed. Rather, the groundwork for a diverse environment must keep the environment intact while providing room for differences without demanding conformances that would eliminate diversity.
Change is not always easy for people to accept. In corporate cultures, change often has an accepted and patterned path. Diversity can create fear because it is perceived as change and this is not necessarily a truth. The synergies from diversities that arrive at solutions or new implementations do not achieve effectiveness simply because diversity exists. Solutions and implementations are agreed to or tried out because people come together to work for some reason that pertains to more than differences exist. Diversity implemented correctly creates an environment with more potential., more acceptance, and more variations that prevent stagnation and weaknesses that cannot be remedied. I believe in a future of diversity.