Diversity – What Is It That We Share?

Group of Diverse Hands Together Joining Concept

One of the biggest challenges facing organisations and leaders today is the rapid pace at which the workforce is changing across the globe.

Generational turnover, cultural evolution, widespread immigration, emerging markets, and advancing technology have all played and will continue to play a significant role in creating an increasingly complex corporate ecosystem that can create new barriers to recruiting, developing staff, ensuring staff engagement, retaining talent and safeguarding good workplace culture.

In the midst of these changes, workplace diversity has gained momentum in its importance as leaders seek to develop a more cohesive, collaborative, and creative work environment as a means of driving continued growth. It is interesting though, that what often gets lost in conversations and planning for work place diversity is the conversation about inclusion, the twin component of diversity that ultimately leads to business success.

I was recently asked to facilitate a session on Diversity with staff at a mid-size organisation with approximately 100 staff. The team were predominantly male whose primary role was outdoor manual labour and there was less than 5 female staff. The organisation was also about to take on board a number of new staff from different backgrounds including Indigenous Australians and staff with mental and physical disabilities. Although the work group already had staff from different cultures and backgrounds, management considered workplace diversity training would be extremely advantageous. This therefore presented me with a challenge. How would I provide information on workplace diversity to 100 people, with no access to a “power point presentation” in a back shed on a Friday afternoon?

The challenge was to make this training not just enjoyable, but also meaningful and that each individual take away some real personal insights. The answer… getting everyone involved to focus on the twin component of diversity… inclusion.

I wanted an exercise that could challenge thinking and was about an individual experience. As a result of some searching, I came across a great YouTube video on Danish TV. The decision for the session…. Role play the video for this team. Have a look for yourself.

We all tend to put people in boxes. We label others in so many different ways. There are males and females, millennials and baby boomers, experienced or not experienced, happy or sad. We tend to communicate our concepts in absolutes and consider all the ways we are different.

It’s often easy for us to look around and recognise the differences between us… and them. But how often do we look for the similarities between us, how we are actually the same as others and identify those similarities as an opportunity to bring us all together. And then suddenly there is us!

Take a look at the video. The exercise worked extremely well with significant engagement from staff (even for a Friday afternoon).

Could this same exercise work for your organisation?

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at http://www.bakjacconsulting.com or michelle@bakjacconsulting.com

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