Thinking Outside the BoxDiversity: “Differences between individuals or groups of people in age, cultural background, disability, ethnicity, family responsibilities, gender, marital status, religious belief and sexual orientation; may also include differences is education, life experience, and socio-economic background.”

Most organisations have a diversity policy stating their position and how they will seek greater diversity in their workplaces.

To what point do we pursue diversity for diversity sake.

To what lengths do we go, to ensure we have diversity in our organisations, do we actively seek it out and if so how do we do this with out reverse discrimination? Do we forgo a more suitable candidate for a position for a member that will bring diversity into the organisation or team? We would not advertise for specific age, ethnicity, or gender to fit into a specific role but some hiring managers have very specific ideas of who best fit into a role around just such criteria.

I do understand that having diversity in a team through age, gender, among other attributes will help to achieve better outcomes than a team made up of people of the same gender as well very similar attributes and experiences.

Tony Abbot hand picked his ministry and only chose one women to sit in cabinet, I remember the out roar when this happened for not having a greater representation of women. Did he consider the benefits of diversity before making these decisions and if so what weight did he put on diversity and what lead him to his choices?

It is a tricky topic that there is no definitive solution to; however, we must be mindful of the power that diversity can bring and look for opportunities to enable this in our teams.

Perhaps we need to broaden selection criteria and have a weighting for diversity, we may still need to educate hiring managers of the benefits of diversity and we need to ensure any bias or opinions are checked and left out of decision-making. If we do this then diversity should occur naturally. On the other hand we must be carful not to force diversity for diversity sake.

Diversity works and we should be trying to achieve greater levels across every industry in both the public and private sector.

Written by John Hefez senior consultant at HR Power.

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