More on Diversity

Diversity necessitates the acceptance, respect and fair treatment of all people regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality/sexual orientation or socio-economic/political status. This involves an obligation to encourage ideals, such as respecting people's rights, dignity and inclusion. This will result in a better understanding and appreciation of different cultures, beliefs and attitudes. Diversity needs to be built into organisational DNA, ie it is the way we do business around here. Encouraging diversity is a way of handling group think as you are more likely to have a greater range of alternatives to select from. Implicit in diversity is acceptance, fair treatment, social justice, compassion, respect and tolerance with a full acceptance of others and having due regard for their wishes, feelings and rights.

On the other hand, a community or organisation that has a very narrow view of humanity, and fosters strong stereotypes so that entrenched views become commonplace will miss the benefits of diversity. Also, activities like bullying will become commonplace.

"...our ability to reach unity in diversity will become the beauty and the test of our civilisation..."

Mahatma Gandhi as quote by Roy Kelley (Headmaster, Melbourne Grammar School), 2016

Australia is in the Asia-Pacific region yet only 4% of the directors of the ASX 200 companies are Asian and only 2% are senior executives

Large v small entrepreneurial firms: large corporations are less likely to appoint somebody who doesn't "fit the norm" of that organisation, whereas high growth, small start-up or SMEs whose focus is on driving the firm with its goals are more likely to look for people, irrespective of background, who will help them get there.

Some informal feedback on cultural diversity shows that employees not willing "to go to the pub" attitude in some industries, like fund management, can be viewed as a negative. Some other examples include

- light-hearted sexist jokes (we are getting a dishwasher for the kitchen office - when does she start!!!!)

- office staff are referred to as "guys" or "need to grow some balls", eg need to become more courageous

- office rituals that favour males, like beer and pizza meetings, performance rewards offering male toys like powerful motor bikes

- females stating they do not understand "techie stuff"

It is interesting to note
"...One of the key lessons we learn from studying corporate failure......where we are having a dominant chairperson or CEO, these people have often eliminated diverse points of view..."
Ian Eddie as quoted by Mark Eggleton, 2020a

Diversity is more than tokenism. It is the ability to bring out new points of view and develop critical thinking skills.

NB need to create an environment of respect that questions language and jokes that appear to be inappropriate

An example of stereotype is refereeing in Rugby Union. Most referees are males from senior management positions in organisations like the large banks, major consultancy firms, business owners, etc. One of the findings from interviewing rugby referees was that they have negative attitudes to some groups of people like Islander people and women, eg

- Islander people were more likely to have penalties awarded against them and/or be sent off the field; the referees have a perception that Islander players are violent and the referees need to penalise them heavily, otherwise you lose control of the game

- similarly for women rugby players need to be watched carefully as they are really dirty players, they are underhanded, they will try and do anything in ruck, etc

NB When people step from one world, like business, to another, like refereeing, they can revert back to old attitudes and stereotypes. This is an example of unconscious bias.
(source: AFRBoss, 2016a; Rebekah Campbell, 2016a)

Hannah Tattersalls, 2016.


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