by Lynda Shaw
Originally published: March 20, 2016
Age, culture, gender, physical challenges, mental challenges, emotional challenges, sexual orientation, social upbringing — the list goes on as we recognize, respect and appreciate diversity. We are increasingly living in a time where people are valued for their contribution to the workforce regardless of differences.
At least that’s the theory, but according to a series of interviews I have conducted, 70% of senior managers interviewed are worried that, despite the benefits, broadening diversity in teams could cause unrest. Needless to say, embracing different ways of seeing things might not be an easy path for some and it is wise to consider how to manage doubts and discontent without alienating anyone.
In order to get a fair understanding of the situation, let’s think about what feeds discrimination. To start with, research in psychology tells us that people are moulded by group membership. The old saying “you become the company you keep” has substance to it because in order for us to belong to a group, we need to conform to the social norms of that group and behave in a similar way to be accepted. If you belong to a group whose norm is to believe that aliens often visit earth, then there is a strong chance you will adopt this view when engaged in conversations with your group and you will probably adopt parallel ideas.