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Why you don’t want equality in the workplace


Most would agree that the world is diverse. After all, we’ve been coexisting for thousands of years. In fact, scientists believe up to four different species of humans existed some 200,000 years ago. Of course, we know which one remains. One theory for our endurance is our superior use of language. While the Neanderthals were smart and the Flores hobbits made sophisticated tools, it turns out that communication gave Homo sapiens an extra edge.

Some things don’t change, even with the passage of time. Real communication, the art of exchanging information freely in the name of progress, goes hand in hand with diversity in the workplace. Here, we’re talking diversity of thought, race, religion, experiences, gender, lifestyle, age and even people’s upbringing.

Here’s the point: If all things are equal, then all things are the same. How then can an organization stretch itself if everyone thinks and acts alike?

Diversity is a tough subject. While many companies may want to espouse diversity as being important, key numbers show otherwise. According to a July article in Entrepreneur magazine, workforce discrimination is costing businesses $64 billion a year. The Grant Thornton International Business Report says women hold only six percent of chief executive roles. An article by ClearCompany shows even big companies are not always big leaders on the diversity front: Google’s tech staff is 1% African American and 2% Hispanic.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is on point in his article for The Huffington Post: “Inclusion is an accelerant—revolutionizing how we work, enabling every single one of us to bring our full selves to work with confidence and impact. When our workplaces have diversity and inclusion, real breakthrough happens.”

Let’s go back to our ancestors for a moment. Many refer to these original gender profiles: men have tunnel vision and kill the tiger so the family can eat. Women are the gatherers and center of the home. Having those two distinct skills and two different abilities on your team is crucial. Are they equal? No. They are different. And different is good. Why would you want only a team of hunters or only gatherers? Why as a society are we defining each one on a hierarchy? We wouldn’t have survived as a species if you cannot hunt AND keep everybody alive in the cave. It takes a whole ecosystem of varying perspectives to thrive.

The main point is that we are not equal. We are biologically and chemically wired differently. Not only do we see marked differences in ethnicities, but very different ways the body works, the brain works between a male and female, how one generation communicates versus another.

If there’s one takeaway from this discussion on diversity, it’s that we all contribute in different ways. It makes for a much more creative and effective company when groups of people with different perspectives come together. It leads to sounder plans and more vibrant solutions. It leads to an organization where inequality – that is, a culture where people are different and those differences are honored – becomes a good thing.