This month, we ran workshops on the subjects of ‘diversity’ and ‘teamwork’ with two very different groups of professionals: lawyers and geologists.
Interesting to see how these two groups have their own ‘dress code’ i.e. styles of behaviour, ways of speaking and acting, that visibly differentiate their professions. There is both a need and a desire for a certain level of conformity. And the truth is; we tend to want to work with people ‘like us’.
And yet. Beneath the surface, is a fascinating range of invisible differences: ideas, beliefs, perspectives, talents and capabilities. This is 'gold' for organisations who value fresh thinking, innovative ideas and creative solutions to complex issues.
Balancing our need to fit in, and be true to who we are, is a human journey. The organisation can support or constrain people in this regard. Many pay lip service to the diversity idea but the challenge is to move beyond the rhetoric. Rhetoric is boring. Diversity is intriguing. It’s also often complex, irrational and confusing. Deal with that. Beware of neatly packaged solutions. You can’t strike gold without getting your hands dirty.