I teach others to value difference, particularly gender and generational differences. I need to learn to value one type of difference that is unrelated to gender or age – the difference between “A-type” and “B-type” personalities. As an “A-type,” I move quickly from one task to another and want things done now. “B-types” take things more slowly and like to do one thing at a time. We can drive one another crazy – or we can recognize difference and appreciate strengths different from my own.
My son gave me a testimonial about how applying the principles of DifferenceWORKS may have saved a business. We often present those principles – appreciating rather than judging differences – to a situation involving one person who operates in a masculine way and another who demonstrates more feminine tendencies. His story involved two masculine men. Rather than strangle his business partner, my son recognized that his colleague was not wrong or defective, just different – and had strengths that were different but important.
McKinsey & Company issues an annual report called “Women Matter.” McKinsey has researched the bottom-line value of gender diversity, what has been effective in successful gender diversity initiatives – and what is still in the way. One of the things in the way is “unacknowledged mindsets.” “Cultural factors” are a key reason so few women reach the top. Culture reflects the “mindsets” of an organization’s leaders. The key to creating an inclusive culture is bringing unconscious mindsets to consciousness so attitudes and behaviors shift. In our workshops, we help bring awareness to those mindsets – the double bind, the comfort principle and unconscious images.
I am fortunate to have been able to travel a great deal recently. When I travel, what I read in history books or hear on the news becomes more real. I pay attention to news of places where I have been. I can imagine people in Delhi, Munich, Beijing, Cairo and Istanbul. Awareness and appreciation of difference makes me glad I am in the field of diversity and inclusion.
Organizational diversity exists when there are different “cultural profiles” within the organization. “Culture” refers to values and ways of a certain geography; there are “subsets of culture” and many combinations of these subsets. I provide an instrument that demonstrates the many kinds of difference. Use it to assess your person cultural profile, which profiles are dominant in your organization and the level of organizational diversity. The assessment helps you consider who is “different” from those in power or in the majority. It can help you see what needs to be done to leverage the benefits of diversity — to create an inclusive culture with deep and broad engagement.
Why do I focus on a specific form of diversity (gender or generational differences at work) rather than more broadly on diversity and inclusion? I take an inductive approach, believing that awareness of the value of one form of difference can be applied to other forms of difference. Why not start with the largest group under-represented at leadership levels (women)? As a white woman, I have more credibility on the issue of women in business than on race or sexual orientation. We have lots of opportunity to practice on gender differences. I want both masculine and feminine strengths applied to solving the big issues facing the world; having a balance of men and women makes that more likely. That’s why.