Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why do you think diversity is important? Does that take a major role in an organization?

Diverse is the way we can describe a culture that is multifaceted. We talk of multicultural organizations.

We are deeply rooted in beliefs and traditions about diversity. For example, almost without exception worldwide, native cultures prohibit intermarriage. In some primitive cultures you were only permitted to marry outside of your tribe and in a few cases it was required you marry someone who spoke an incomprehensible language!

It is ancient agricultural wisdom that one strengthens plants by cross breeding, something Mendel and Darwin showed to take place naturally. When in geological time the creatures on the Galapagos Islands were isolated, finches, in the face of competition from each other, evolved into different kinds with their own innovative behaviors and niches in the ecosystem.

Attempts to achieve mono-cultures tend to fail, e.g. Hitler's Germany and Stalin's USSR. Unfortunately the industrial age's mass production appeared to justify mono-cultures. You were either a manager or a worker, a boiler maker or an accountant. Industrial culture demanded similarity, uniformity and predictability and in this post-industrial era we still struggle to shed such old traditions.

Market economies and democracies may be imperfect but they comprehend that the primary evolutionary force is personal choice.

In short any organization that fails to encourage diversity is protecting something it doesn't want to talk about and is itself doomed to fail. Some organizations boast their diversity as a competitive asset and they're right!

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