Diversity in the workplace – why it matters.


Diversity in the workplace

Diversity in the workplace matters. It matters a lot. A short while ago, the population of the world reached 7 billion. Yet the world isn’t getting any bigger…. If anything, it seems to be getting smaller. Oil, gas and coal resources are diminishing, along with many other natural resources. Even food is becoming an issue, because the amount of land available for agriculture is being reduced (due to desertification) by an area three times the size of Switzerland each year

In an overcrowded and nuclear armed world, we have to find a way to get along with each other.

In my country, Australia, one in four was born outside the country. Multiculturalism is a fact of life. Worldwide, according to the International Office of Migration, the number of people who relocated to another country in 2010 was 214 million. If international migration increases as the same pace, it will reach 405 million by 2050.

And that is without factoring in climate change! A sea level increase of just 50cm would displace 200 million people, with huge potential for conflict. Many of those displaced will be in Bangladesh, and the exodus of Bangladeshis to the neighbouring countries with higher ground is already causing tensions.

The purpose of this website will be to explore how the business sector can engage with diversity in a way that helps offer solutions rather than adding to the problem.

So far, the signs are not good. Conflict in general (of which inter-cultural conflict is only a part) is a major problem in business, and it is growing. A 2009 survey of thousands of employees in nine countries across Europe and the Americas found that the average employee spends 2.8 hours in conflict per week. Just in terms of lost productivity and wage costs, that translates to $359 billion per year in the USA alone. But the hidden costs may be even higher. Conflict is a major cause of workplace stress, which in turn leads to absences and higher staff turnover. And for any company that has worked hard on its brand reputation and carefully cultivated relationships, how do you put a price on the damage that could be caused by angry and frustrated employees?

Despite the high costs to business, many managers lack any formal training in conflict management. And most are not-equiped to handle diversity issues.

Well, its time for that to change. Over the next days and months, this website will offer perspectives on how diversity in the workplace can work well –  and create extra value in your business. And we are not just talking cultural diversity, but any sort of diversity. Because by building better relationships we build a better world. And that is what business should be all about.

Mike Lowe
Helping individuals and teams get into flow

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