Diversity has been turned into a PR activity, instead of a strategic advantage by HR!
The difference is very simple…Have you ever been to IKEA to buy a piece of furniture? Most people have done it…It is a weird experience…you check the brochure or the display and you fall in love with it…You want to buy it…it would look amazing in your living room! You write down the number, go to the till and order it…then you get a flat pack…you go home excited then you try to assemble it using the instructions. If you are a ‘real man’ like me, you would ignore that because nobody can tell you what to do, you know that anyway, it is not the difficult with your skills and experience. 2 hours later you might realise it is not that simple, there are more or less pieces than needed ( suspicious, isn’t it?) and you had enough!
A lot of companies do the same with their diverse workforce...they hear about the potential and they also have to be politically correct so they start employing people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Happy days!
For a while…then problems start emerging…misunderstandings, arguments, frustration, high staff turnover, decreased productivity, confusion. In worst case: law suit, legal actions.
What happened? Diversity seemed to be so tempting and simple in the news, they promised so much potential, where is that?
This is where the IKEA experience costs us a significant amount of money…relying on common sense and previous experience is not enough to turn DIVERSITY into INCLUSION.
What is the difference?
- A table in many different pieces with the potential of being a great table or a complete piece of furniture you can use immediately to have fun and entertain your friends.
A company with a lot of different people who cannot stand others and they are not sure what and how they should be doing or a successful organisation where the mixture of people work in harmony creating synergy and superior performance.
The question I often get from CEO-s and HR people is:
“How can you create inclusion if all people are unique and there are so many cultures in the world?“
It is possible…do not focus on the differences first…find the similarities to build a common ground then you can learn how to make the most of the differences. If you do not understand your own and other people’s strengths and weaknesses, you can never create an inclusive environment.
Investing in your people is not a luxury, it is the bare minimum with the highest ROI you can spend money on.
Think about it…you have 5 employees in a shift…you want to save money so you send home 2. You save £15-£20 an hour. A motivated and skilled staff could sell the multiple of that or they could come up with insights and ideas to make even more profit…if you listened to them. This is a typical example we see in failing companies while it is the exact opposite in successful ones. 85% of success is down to people skills, it can be learnt because treating people the way they want to be treated is very profitable.
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