“Diversity in the workplace has become somewhat of a buzz term resembling a continuous low murmuring or humming sound, instead of an atmosphere of excitement and activity.”

It has become increasingly noticeable that, over the last half-century, immigration and globalization; combined with a new regime of civil rights laws and changes in public opinion, have all contributed to Diversity in the Workplace. That being said, diversity in the workplace has become somewhat of a buzz term resembling a continuous low murmuring or humming sound, instead of an atmosphere of excitement and activity. 

Diversity, viewed in its entirety, is the state of being diverse, rather than a collection of unique problems. Meaning, the benefits of adopting and applying a diverse culture, within the workplace, rather than viewing diversity as a challenge, based on a number of different or diverse individuals, are favorable and worthwhile across all contexts. Diversity is all inclusive.

Organizations with increasingly diverse workforces face challenges in reaping diversity’s benefits whilst managing its potentially disruptive effects.

Managing diversity, in the workplace, is a business and leadership concern and not only, a moral, legal and social concern. Notwithstanding the demographic forces and legal developments that create the environment in which diversity management is needed.

In this article we highlight the importance of thought leadership and how it can be used as a tool to effectively overcome controversial dimensions and create an atmosphere where diversity in the workplace is an asset rather than a thought provoking force.

Thought leadership is characterized by the premise that leadership is built on a state of mind. As many believe, one’s mind has a powerful influence not just over thoughts, but feelings and actions too. The question really is, how is one to manage something if you simply refuse to understand it? A thought leader is someone who identifies trends, common themes and patterns within a particular industry or functional area of expertise in order to help others identify new opportunities and solutions for growth. Thought leadership is clearly a different breed of leaders who create growth strategies for corporations.

Evidence is starting to prove that companies whom have adopted diverse talent as well as an inclusive and diverse culture serve their clients better, achieve greater innovation, and have stronger employer brands, which are all vehicles for achieving resilience and staying relevant in the long term.

Lessons from conversations with game changers:

  • A conversation about diversity alone is not enough: Inclusion is essential – Companies that are making real progress are focusing not only on creating a diverse workforce but on fostering an inclusive culture as well. A sense of belonging amongst employees is essential – without it, diversity initiatives are superficial at best.
  • People, who manage diversity successfully, view diversity and inclusion as inextricably linked to business goals.
  • Diversity and inclusion are long-term efforts, rather than a series of short-term initiatives.
  • Diversity and Inclusion must start at the top, engaged leadership is therefore critical to success. (Adapted from —–Russel Reynolds associates webpage – Diversity and inclusion hashtag- game changers  – article http://www.russellreynolds.com/insights/thought-leadership/diversity-and-inclusion-gamechangers)

You may still question, why should any business owner be interested in making the effort to actively understand, manage and seek out diverse employees?

Advantages of Workplace Diversity:

  • One of the greatest advantages of having a diverse workforce is your talent pool. The greater diversity within your talent pool, the more people you have to choose from when making decisions. Decisions are based on a number of diverse views, which assists in evaluating risk.
  • Research shows that diverse work teams are the most likely to value inclusion and minimize feelings of intimidation or hostility.
  • Diversity encourages teams to be more creative, no matter what kind of diversity you strive for, you are likely to end up with people on your team who are not strangers to challenges and controversy.
  • It prepares your workplace and team members to have increased adaptability when dealing with challenges and change.

In an era where flexibility, creativity and resilience are essential to success and survival, it has become increasingly apparent how indispensable managing diversity effectively has become.

Now that you are aware of why a diverse workplace matters and its benefets thereof; here are a few tips on how to manage potential barriers that exist within your organisation and how to eliminate them in order to create an engaging environment in which optimal employee performance, employee retention and inclusion is accurately implemented.

The new organisational leadership paradigm for the thought oriented leader:

  • Implicit attitudes must come from a place of respect for individual differences. The thought oriented leader’s perception must therefore be one of awareness and respect. Prevailing norms and values must be identified and then examined in order to identify new opportunities and solutions for growth.
  • Increased adaptability creates greater flexibility to react to environmental changes – In other words conformity (which still characterises the modern management model) should not be implemented or accepted within the workplace.
  • Diversity of perspectives should be encouraged in order to promote creativity. This will also assist in accurately placing employees in tasks and groups.
  • Associates should never be denied the necessary, critical and constructive feedback for learning about mistakes and successes.
  • Another vital requirement when dealing with diversity is promoting a safe place for employees to communicate.

Fastfwd Consulting offers a unique diversity programme, in partnership with InSA. The purpose of our Inclusive Diversity Workshop (Diversity, Ethics & EE) is to create a work environment where all people, regardless of race, language, ethnic group, religion, gender, social—economic or educational backgrounds, will demonstrate respect and insight for one another. This will enable greater synergy, resulting in improved productivity and business results. 

by: Anche Byleveldt

Click here to view our Diversity Workshop Solution Details