Embracing Diversity

An innovative way to creating inadvertent success


Richard Lehnerdt

South Africa is now 20 years into its new democracy and yet is still struggling to embrace diversity. The hotly debated issue of whether or nor BEE and affirmative action policies have succeeded in reducing inequality in South Africa still rages on. Supporters of these policies proclaim that a great deal has been achieved, whilst others argue that the policies have only served to enrich a very small percentage of black people.

The reality is that organisations in South Africa operate in a multicultural and multiethnic society and people interact with differentiating characteristics such as work styles, mental models and even personality types.  Managing this diverse environment can be challenging.

Businesses should look at embracing diversity, whilst still adhering to equal opportunity legislation policies, to provide tangible results to the company in which all members can contribute and achieve to their full potential.  This promotes a flow of novel ideas and concepts from cultures that can allow companies to better understand the demographics of the marketplace it serves, and be better equipped to thrive in that marketplace than a company with a more limited range of employee demographics. In addition to this a diverse workforce can also improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. A recent study by Harvard Business School, shows that a multicultural workforce can promote creativity, and Forbes concluded that “diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale.”

By becoming aware of diverse sets of experiences, perspectives, businesses will gain a competitive advantage in areas such as problem solving, corporate image, and marketing. Individuals bring a wealth of knowledge, which is fundamental to addressing diversity in an organization and failure to do so can undermine intercultural contact. 
An organisation that appreciates and proactively promotes diversity will be more adaptable to change. Diversity stimulates debate, can help uproot existing implicit assumptions in behaviour and work practices and discover new and better ways of operating. Diversity can improve the bottom-line of an organisation as a workforce which reflects the diversity of its customers will be in a better position to understand the needs of those customers.

“A diverse and inclusive workforce is necessary to drive, foster creativity, and guide business strategies. Multiple voices lead to new ideas, new services, and new products, and encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Today, companies no longer view diversity and inclusion efforts as separate from their other business practices, and recognize that a diverse workforce can differentiate them from their competitors by attracting top talent and capturing new clients.” Forbes insights

If businesses embrace diversity, not only can they gain from the culture-rich environment fostered, but employees can gain from the trickle-down effect of acceptance and economic prosperity. By encountering generational, cultural, language and behavioral differences in today's workplace companies can lay down inadvertent strategies for developing the critical competencies needed for success: empathy, cross-cultural communication and conflict resolution skills in the communities they serve. By using the energy of emotions to bridge differences in the workplace and turn difficult relationships into satisfying ones a healthier workplace and living country can be created.

CorporateWise presents an exhilarating, non-judgmental, diversity training program, aimed at achieving transformational and life changing experiences with both short and long term sustainable conflict resolution. 

Underpinned by Clarity 4D – a non-discriminatory tool which uses colour as its base to guide delegates to an understanding of communication, emotional intelligence and interaction within teams. The program ensures that the diversity is not only integrated into the organisation, but that is accepted and sustained. 
We strive to deal with diversity dynamics in relation to the past, present and future and we take the current way of thinking, behaving, feeling and communicating as basis and build on these to create greater synergy within the organisation.