There is resistance to diversity. Even amongst those who claim to support it. The comforting pull of the status quo is just too great. No matter that, in this case, what is comforting to the individual is actually suffocating to business.
And while the situation exists as it currently does, with only seven FTSE 100 companies headed by a female CEO and an even more dismaying picture at the level of ethnicity, that resistance is not going to dissipate anytime soon.
One thing we can do to push back against those who see diversity training as so much snake oil or a misguided onslaught of political correctness is to admit its faults. After all, backing it unreservedly is blinkered thinking – the kind of thinking that diversity is supposed to disrupt. So here goes.
Diversity can hold up consensus
While diversity is absolute rocket fuel to creative thinking and problem-solving, it can be a drag on consensus. As diversity becomes the norm rather than the exciting new exception, we can expect, of course, that leaders will find ways to smooth some of those rough edges.
There is such a thing as too much diversity
The success of diversity seems to fly in the face of the old adage that “too many cooks spoil the broth”. Doesn’t diversity just make your broth irresistible? Well, yes – within reason. The chefs must at least be able to understand each other on a basic level, and share a kitchen without knives flying.
There is such a thing as the wrong kind of diversity
The term “diversity” has such visual connotations, it’s easy to focus on superficial signifiers – ethnicity, gender, age. But these are indications of the possible diversity within. It’s the inner, deep-level diversity that leads to business benefits. Roll out diversity initiatives at recruitment stage with insufficient finesse and you’ll end up with people who look and sound very different – superficial diversity – but with same-old-same-old thinking.