Three principles for leveraging diversity

seprator
15March 2016
Katherine Woods

Katherine Woods

Partner
This post is authored by Katherine Woods, Partner. Full bio →
Katherine Woods

It was recently International Women’s Day. There has been a lot of media coverage about the value of women in senior roles in organisations. It’s a shame that this kind of insight is still shared as if it is new, but it is great that this is being widely appreciated now.  Whilst some organisations wrestle with diversity quotas for the number of women on the Board, I would like to offer my personal views on a philosophy of diversity that  goes deeper than that.

I think the tension around diversity for those of us who lead organisations is often about how we reconcile ‘cultural fit’ i.e. the need for newcomers coming into an organisation to fit with the way people work in the organisation, alongside the aspiration to have a diverse organisation.

Principles for leveraging diversity

My personal background as a female engineer, from a mixed race family means I have some experience of prejudice against me. This has developed in me some strong personal values of inclusion and respect for diversity. I want to invite diversity into Meeting Magic, and yet I know our organisation is not for everyone. So, for 17 years I have been experimenting and learning about ways to recruit and develop people, which foster diversity and cultural fit.

  • Focus on attraction, rather than recruitment – after some particularly painful experiences of unsuccessful recruitment into Meeting Magic, we decided to focus on laws of attraction, rather than traditional recruitment methods. This has largely involved communication about what we stand for, and how we work, then waiting to see who approaches us.
  • Mutual selection – make the selection process a mutual one, with shared accountability for the success or failure of someone joining.
  • Control structure, not people – design an organisational structure that drives the behaviours needed for the whole organisation to be sustainable.

We are still experimenting with these three principles for leveraging diversity, and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I notice that the people drawn into Meeting Magic are from a broad range of backgrounds that enriches the quality of our work. We have moved beyond acceptance and tolerance of difference into really leveraging the power of our differences. This is where diversity adds value to an organisation and ceases to become a game of complying to legislation and quotas.

Diversity has been a huge topic for many years. It can be a touch conversation to have, especially in addressing the more difficult elements of inclusion and exclusion. Leveraging diversity is one of the areas of experise we offer. If you would like to engage your organisation, leadership, managers, team leaders and employees in diversity conversations, with both large and small groups, give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form letting us know your starting point for the conversation. We experience diversity daily in our work. We know how to support your conversations.

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