"Diversity" seems to be one of those terms that nobody really understands but everyone agrees "we" should all be concerned about. Diversity committees have mushroomed across Corporate America (particularly in law firms) and companies are quite diligent about announcing their commitments to diversity and fair and equal treatment. One question is, what's in it for them (besides avoiding lawsuits)?
In this straight forward and unvarnished statement about diversity, the author Richard Dickerson argues that a lack of diversity is one key reason for failures in the USAID program in Afghanistan. His observations are relevant to corporate managers struggling to understand what, beyond altruism, makes diversity at all important to them. This quote really sums it up: "When you constantly pick the same people with similar backgrounds to serve and lead, it's hard for new and different ideas to be considered -- or even discussed."
Out innovating the competition is particularly important during tough economic times when the struggle for business and the dollars that come with it is especially keen. A wisely constituted diverse team will automatically grant its members exponential advantages - but only when what makes each individual diverse is encouraged rather than suppressed by old-fashioned ideas regarding business culture and propriety. It isn't a free-for-all but business atmospheres must evolve in order to allow the benefits of building diverse teams to flourish.
My diversity workshops are eye-opening journeys into each firm's own diversity and potential to innovate and excel. Visit my Law Firm Services page to get more information about what a diversity workshop can do for you.