Are you really prepared for diversity?

This intention of this sally is not to argue if companies (and we all in genernal) do benefit from diversity or not. I believe the answer is yes and there are other places to discuss this opinion. I also want to avoid emotionally-loaded aspects of diversity like gender, race, age and the like. This story is about my experience in a project team with a diverse range of ideas. Following the public debate, diversity of ideas means (per se) a good outcome of the project and in the end a good result for the company. And we have created a great result! But it’s naive to think that this happened over night and without any challenges.

Diverse ideas will only merge to a great result if you are ready to discuss and disagree. And I feel that most people writing about diversity close their eyes and don’t see that employees are not ready for arguments and conflicts. Without a culture of open constructive discussion and of fairly trying to involve everybody, diverse ideas will not help a company with anything. Because they lead to discussions which then lead to arguments and with no one to solve them, work will not be done. And even constructive discussions can get heated. Or ideas and opinions never spread because the company culture does not foster inclusion. For this you need to prepare employees if you want to benefit from a range of perspectives.

Let’s come back to the project I was writing about ealier. Our team meetings were filled with heated discussions. I was ready to back up my arguments and encourage others to share theirs. Would it have helped to explain the concepts of mensplaining and mensrupting? No. Would it have helped to be quite or start bitching around? No. It helped that I had my functional stuff together and could bring it across. It helped that I insisted on putting my opinion down in written and repeating my arguments just in case I had the feeling they did not come across. It helped to communicate with other stakeholders of the project to make a point whenever there was no space for it during a meeting or afterwards. Was that always easy? No. Do I think all this communication effort was worth it. Yes.

I don’t want to watch one more keynote speech from so-called role models. I don’t want to read any more lengthy blog post about how we potentially could improve something. I don’t want to hear about a quota and to which intent we did or did not reach it. I’m tired about reading recent news about Uber and Google. I want to see more role models in action and on the job. And because I want this so much I decided to be one myself.

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