Recently I was at a function and a well-dressed professional man in his early 40’s asked me what I did for a living. I stated that I train companies in the art of Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity. He looked baffled and said, “Is that still an issue?
He went on to say that organization he works for has people of colour and everyone seems to get along. And I said this is very good and your company must be a forward thinking organization.
Then I asked him the dreaded question – are there any women, gays /lesbians, visible minorities or people with disability in the boardroom where critical decisions are made for the company? “I don’t think so, ” he replied.
Apparently I was taken aback a bit, but not shocked. As usual, I kept my cool and continued to have a civilized conversation. But I could tell that he was not impressed with my line of work because according to his world all is well in the workplace.
This person is not alone when it comes to understanding the fundamental issues of diversity in the workplace.
Many organizations talk about diversity, but concrete actions are not always taken and often it is nothing more than a window dressing.
Organizations need to incorporate diversity into their business model and not only from a cultural aspect. True diversity occurs in the workplace when there is accountability, which often starts at the very top.
It is important to keep in mind that these days the demographics are changing in the workplace and also their client base is shifting. For any organizations to compete successfully in today’s world they need to adapt to the changing times.