Vive la difference!
“Diversity is not about how we differ. It’s about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” ~ Ole Joseph
“Minds are like parachutes – they only function when they are open” ~ Sir James Dewar
Diversity. It seems to be the latest corporate buzz word, but do we know what it REALLY means?
My company is in the publishing industry and their policy statement is to “Promote respect, inclusion and participation in the workplace”. Succinct and to-the-point, but what are the values and mind-sets behind such a sound bite? In conducting some further research I managed to find the following statement:
“Our aim is to keep Diversity and Inclusion at the heart of what we do. Our commitment to reflect the global world in which we operate starts with our leaders. We took the lead in our industry as the first learning company to establish a proactive Diversity and Inclusion team and policy.”
All very positive and encouraging, I’m sure you’ll agree, but I couldn’t find anything which specifically stated that staff would be treated equally regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, other. I guess in these “politically correct times”, that by even stating these differences, is highlighting them. Are we are all supposed to be genderless, ageless, sexless and the same? From a company’s point of view, yes we are. In reality, does this really happen?
There’s been some interesting diversity news from the financial services industry recently; at the behest of New York City’s public pension funds, two of the biggest financial companies with headquarters in the city, Goldman Sachs and MetLife, have agreed to publicly disclose information about the racial and gender breakdowns of their staffs. I’ve yet to hear how this has been received but I’m sure the response will be interesting. What prompted such a request has yet to be identified – why should it matter? I guess the statistician’s need to be kept in a job…?
From my own point of view I’ve never let being a woman place any restrictions on achieving my goals and targets, despite constant media reminders that women are not (generally speaking) as successful in the workplace. Women ARE however treated differently to men; we’re paid differently for a start. There are hundreds of reference points to be found which highlight the difference in male and female pay structures, for doing exactly the same work. Unfair? You betcha!
However the tide is turning, as there are more CEO’s and senior female executives in at board level in business than there has ever been, which can only be good news. In fact in a UK government-commissioned report on FTSE 100 board diversity, released just over a year ago, Lord Davies recommended a minimum target of 25 per cent female representation on FTSE 100 boards by 2015.
I feel that the media also has such an important part to play in the whole diversity issue. Until they stop highlighting stories such as Thatcher being the first female PM in the UK, and Obama being the first black American president, then there are always going to be diversity issues.
“Variety is the spice of life” ~ Proverb
Vive la difference, I say!
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