In complex times, organizations must urgently evolve through management of diversity. Certain navigational instruments can help us with this challenge.
By Celia de Anca, Director of the Centre for Diversity in Global Management at IE University.
In these days of lockdown, I dream of navigating the open seas, sailing over the waves accompanied by skilled sailors using the best navigational instruments, confident I will reach a safe harbor.
In this article, I’d like to share with you how I believe diversity can provide us with two basic instruments, which as part of a diversity navigation chart can help organizations weather the storm.
1. THE SEXTANT: DIVERSITY AS A MOVEMENT FROM THE INDIVIDUAL TO SOCIETY AND BACK
I am different from you in many ways, but only some of my differences are relevant. For example: for some people, my gender, my background or my education mean they can classify me in subgroups other than my interests or ideas.
Some of these subgroups are based on normative behaviors, for example: women are supposed to be empathetic, Latinos are supposed to be extroverts or people with a background in liberal arts are generalists. Whether I conform or not to those stereotypes doesn’t matter, since they can be imposed on me through categorization.
Therefore, the first rule for navigating diversity is to understand that there are two distinct processes at play. The first is group identification, by which we decide to identify with a certain group, along with its attributes and behaviors. The second is categorization, in which the process is external, imposed on us.
The diversity sextant helps us to understand that different diversity behaviors are often the product of categorization and are not a deterministic prediction of an individual behavior: the fact that I am a woman does not presuppose that I am empathetic.
Therefore, companies need to use this first navigational instrument to understand the pool of talent inside the organization and thus eliminate categorization or external entry barriers.
2. THE COMPASS: DIVERSITY AS A BINDING ELEMENT THAT CONNECTS OR SEPARATES DIFFERENT HUMAN AGGREGATIONS
One way to understand diversity is to understand what binds members of a specific human aggregation, or how teams operate in an organization.
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