How Is Your Diversity Plan Going?

Photo credit: SHC/2014



Let’s take a walk.

Recent events have pushed into very sharp focus the relational behaviours between and among individuals and groups. Our collective memory will suggest that since time immemorial, man has been preoccupied with the notion of race and labels. We create societies built on opposites. If one is not rich, one is poor. If one is not superior, one is inferior.  Sets of opposites, as the ones identified  play out in our discourse and impacts the way we interpret our environment. We organize our world in schemas. Schemas are shaped by our experiences in the world and help us make sense of what happens around us. So if we believe that persons from inner-city communities are lazy and do not wish to work, when we do meet one,our schema will rear its head. We then look for examples that will support the view we have of inner-city folks. Any information that does not support the view will be quickly discarded.

In the world of work, schemas have a powerful influence on the relationship between management and labour. I am sure you have heard statements that seek to characterize the players in an organization using unsavoury terms. An already tense relationship between management and labour is likely to erode further if there is no attempt by either party to reframe the relationship in terms that will improve the results they both desperately seek.

As I reflect on my journey in the business world, particularly in the area of industrial relations, it is clear there is much work to do in changing the attitudes and behaviours of those who lead management and labour. To do this is no easy feat as there is a strong pull to default to what we know best, even if it has not worked. If we were to suspend for a brief moment the need to place another “defense brick” on our already complex and challenged organizational wall and peer over the erected psychological structure of our making, we may see a glimpse of mutual interests. If we were to reject the schemas that hold no substance and retrain the mind to see beyond the perspectives that stymie collaboration, that would certainly move us a step closer to accomplishing identifiable mutual interests.

What will it take to get there?

This is not rocket science. Education is one catalyst that will help. Add to that as well the benefits of having your company reflect the values of a truly diverse team. Workforce management practices will have to look at embedding in its culture, the appropriate values that reframe old paradigms to reflect the new dispensation. There is need for each and every organization to define its way forward. Operating in a rich, culturally diverse community suggests that a company, any company, will have to be mindful of its recruitment strategy.  Get a team together and create a diversity plan. Why not craft the new vision. The organization is changing, so it’s a fantastic time to check in, engage and design an even better model.

© Suzette Henry Campbell 2014



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