Two sides of a coin - diversity and practicality

Let's look at history for a moment. The ancient pantheon of Greek gods had the 12 Olympians. Each of the gods had their own functions and powers. Added to that, each of them had a unique temperament too, ranging from poetry to domesticity to ferocity. Fast forward to a football team in current times. A team is typically made of different kinds of players and skills. Some players specialise in offense, some in defense and some both.

For far too long, the debate around diversity has centred around men and women. I think diversity is more than just about gender. It of course includes gender. Right from upbringing, health, education and opportunities, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure men, women and transgenders are all treated equally and fairly around the world. In addition, diversity is also about ethnicity, nationality, age, differently-abled, different temperaments and experiences. I have managed teams before. I have often found that having a diverse team and opinions is not a question of being politically correct but a matter of strength.

Charles de Gaulle once mused, "How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?" Often creating or sustaining diversity can be seen as challenging or unnecessary.  But, think of it this way. A diverse team will not slow an idea down, instead it will test the idea. If an idea can stand the test of a diverse team, it has much better chance at success. As professionals and leaders working in any field, be it politics, government, or private enterprises, we need to look at diversity as a practical tool to achieve efficiency, competitiveness and innovation. 

In the end, I leave you with a quote from another leader. “Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.”, Theodore Roosevelt


This post was written by Rajan Manickavasagam, an IT professional with experience across management and technology. He blogs at www.rajansview.com. He welcomes your views in the comments below.