The issue of diversity in the workplace continues to be a challenge for many organizations. Human Resource managers scramble to ensure that the company is in line with federal and state law, fearing a potential lawsuit and the economic consequences it could have for the company, not to mention for the HRM’s employment. We seem to be a society driven by the urgency of staying aligned with the legal requirements.
I think this approach is backwards. Any entity—whether it be an individual or an organization—if driven solely by law takes on nothing more than the hollow form of ethical behavior. This leads to a minimalist approach to ethics that is satisfied with merely complying with baseline requirements.
Wouldn’t it be far healthier approach for the company to embrace the principle of diversity just because it’s the right thing to do? That is, if you believe it’s the right thing to do.
I happen to believe that it is. To discriminate against people because of the color of their skin, their gender, ethnicity, or age is simply wrong. Not only is it wrong but it hurts the organization, even if that organization never finds itself in the midst of discrimination litigation.
Discrimination is both wrong and also foolish. Discriminatory hiring is like an army shooting its own soldiers or a NASCAR driver pouring sugar into his fuel tank. It’s self-inflicted damage. Why? Because diversity carries with it so many benefits for the company. Consider the following potential benefits.
- A wider market. A diverse workforce is capable of developing products and services that meet the needs of a wider customer base.
- More innovation. Diversity enhances creativity because it forces all of us to think outside our own skins.
- Better decisions. Having a diverse management team can help the organization make better decisions as problems are analyzed from different perspectives.
- Organizational learning. A diverse workforce enables the organization to adapt with agility to changes in the external environment.
- Global Networking. A diverse workforce can be a source of global connections than can lead to a broadening of your company’s global networking potential.
More than anything else, however, I want to emphasize that diversity is the right thing to do. We should not have to be dragged by the law kicking and screaming into acknowledging diversity. Diversity should be a core value, something we wholeheartedly embrace JUST BECAUSE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
God did not create just one kind of flower, or animal, or fish, or human being. The kaleidoscope of creation is what makes this world beautiful and exciting.
What do you think? Why do so many organizational leaders continue to resist diversity, complying only with the bare minimum of legal obligation? Rather than embracing diversity as an inherently good and wholesome organizational quality?
Greg Waddell provides consulting services for churches and organizations. Contact Dr. Waddell today at gregwaddell[at]leadstrategic.com to discuss the needs of your organization.