Don’t be Indifferent to Diversity in the Workplace

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September 18, 2014 by Rick B

Diversity in the workplace is a well-researched and documented issue with many wide ranging implications. In this blog I will not attempt to address the big picture, but instead focus narrowly on the issue of what diversity can mean to the operational side of a business or any enterprise.

First, let’s look at a definition. Simply put, diversity is the variety of experiences and perspectives which arise from differences. The differences can and do take many forms and can include, but are not limited to a person’s culture, race, age, ethnicity, personality type, gender, educational background, cognitive style, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, political views, and religion.

Every individual brings with them unique viewpoints and insights based on their personal experiences. By opening ourselves to accept the fact that our own perspective and perceptions form only one piece of the puzzle and that there is tremendous value in what others think, we can gain a great advantage in our problem solving ability.

Leaders must ultimately determine the course of an organization, but doing so in a vacuum without the input of team members is short sighted and a bit narcissistic. Frankly, if you really believe you have all the best answers and know exactly what to do in every situation, you are wrong. One individual simply does not have enough life or work experiences to encompass all perspectives.

Leaders that understand the value of differing insights start by hiring a diverse team. Conversely, having a team of mini-mes can almost guarantee that decisions will be narrowly focused and lack the depth a diverse team could offer.

The easiest example of how diversity can be used properly in a business is marketing. If you are trying to reach a broad audience, is one single message really going to resonate with everyone? Look at what McDonalds does with their television advertisements. Depending on the channel or the show you will see a different commercial aimed at a specific audience.

Many times, how diversity can assist in decision making takes a much more subtle approach than in the McDonald’s example. It can be as simple as one individual having had a bad experience in a situation that is similar to what your business is contemplating. That perspective, when shared, can allow everyone to see the situation in a different light.

There is another benefit of challenging your own beliefs. Scientists who study the brain have determined that activities that challenge your beliefs have a large impact on long term brain health.

As leaders we need to seek and celebrate diversity, and use the variety of experiences and perspectives our teams have to offer to help us make great decisions.

Rick Brammer is president and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.
Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. We offer pre-service collection solutions as well as traditional back-end collections. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902.

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