The Secret to Organic Diversity

leadership diversityNew York City is a cultural smorgasbord. Walk down the street and you might hear three or four different languages spoken in five minutes. On any given night you can find great guacamole, or delicious shawarma, or yummy pad thai. It’s like no other city in the world. How did this happen? Did someone plan it out? Were quotas established for each ethnic group? No, of course not. Organic diversity can’t be planned.

True diversity is more than a policy; it’s an attitude.

The most common mistake I see leaders make in trying to achieve diversity is this: They try to achieve diversity. Diversity is one of those things you can’t aim at directly and expect to hit. If you focus on achieving a diverse organization, you may succeed in meeting quotas, but you’ll miss the power only organic diversity unleashes.

The power of organic diversity is in the volume of varying viewpoints allowed to thrive in an organization. It’s not just about how many different colors are in your palette, it’s about how free they are to mix and mingle and add depth and richness to the picture. More perspectives—handled well—lead to better solutions, greater relevance, and wider success. That’s why diversity can’t be limited to race, gender, or age. You must consider thinking preferences, personalities, and disciplines. Are you open to diversity in these categories?

So, how do you achieve organic diversity if you can’t aim directly at it? Seek Inclusiveness. If you’re open to—and foster a climate that’s open to—all types of people and perspectives, diversity will naturally follow. Forcing diversity as an end in itself, will never produce the fruits of organic diversity.

How do you think seeking inclusiveness differs from seeking diversity?

3 thoughts on “The Secret to Organic Diversity”

  1. Hi Geoff,

    Wonderful idea that takes a stab at artificial diversity. You open a door.

    Please forgive me for ignoring your question. But an enemy of organic inclusiveness popped into my mind. I think leaders and managers tend to hire “themselves.” Type “A” people tend to hire type “A’s.” If we aren’t careful we may think the way we think is the “best” way to think.

    Inclusiveness may depend on our ability to celebrate diversity.

    Best to you,

    DAn

    1. Absolutely, Dan. Hiring yourself is such a dangerous blindspot.

      Love your last line, “Inclusiveness may depend on our ability to celebrate diversity.” I totally agree. It’s not enough to acknowledge that others are different, we have to appreciate it too!

      As always, thanks for sharing!

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