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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: July 2015

By Ian Dodds – The Inclusion Builder

Super Diversity offers enhanced performance opportunities

The social landscape of Britain and other countries of immigration have been transformed in the past two decades. The arrival of migrants from many different countries, combined with longer established minority populations, has resulted in an unprecedented variety of cultures, identities, faiths, languages, and immigration statuses. These new patterns have emerged from greater speed, scale and spread of diversity than ever before. Furthermore, super diverse populations tend to change rapidly and are often fragmented rather than clustered in geographical locations. All these factors combine to mean that super diversity presents unparalleled opportunities and challenges to businesses, communities, policymakers and practitioners.

Super Diversity is important because harnessing it enables organisations to add extra leverage through the Diversity Trumps Ability Theorem. This states, with a theoretical, mathematical underpinning, that diverse groups of people will consistently outperform bright, homogeneous groups in solving problems. There is one condition and that is that the diverse group must listen to each other and explore differing opinions and points of view. This requires the diverse group needs a reasonable competence in interactive effectiveness (see my June 15 blog).

IDC has been advocating the concept of super diversity to its clients for a long time. We have been doing this because the strand based approach, i.e. age, disability, gender, race and ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation, is too simplistic an approach in promoting diversity and the performance benefits it offers. Instead, we have advocated a layers of diversity model adapted from the work of Gardenswartz and Rowe. This recognises different layers of diversity, which include:

  • Personality, e.g. an introvert is likely to view the world differently to an extrovert.

  • The diversity strands;

  • Life experiences, e.g. partner status, parental status, socio-economic status, educational background, nationality, location, appearance, hobbies and leisure interests, etc;

  • Work Experiences, e.g. sector of work, occupational background, seniority, etc;

  • Cultural, e.g. style of communicating, importance of task versus relationships, decision-making style, problem solving style, how power is displayed, how time is viewed, etc.

Our experience is that the people we work with in our clients appreciate this approach much more than the strand based approach. This is because it encompasses elements of diversity, other than the diversity strands, which have been most influential in their lives, e.g. educational background, parental status, occupation, etc. Furthermore, it accentuates the importance and enriches the scope of the diversity trumps ability theorem. It is leveraging this factor that has enabled me to be instrumental in helping turn round failing factories and businesses and Government departments by engaging all of the diversity in the organisations in a powerful, inclusive change process.

Please get in touch with me if you would like to discuss super diversity and how leveraging it can add value to performance, problem solving, innovation, customer responsiveness, safety performance and delivering complex change (see Jan 15 blog).

Dr Ian Dodds, iandodds@iandoddsconsulting.com,

www.iandoddsconsulting.com, www.thepowerofinclusion.com, 29 June 2015

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