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12.18.09

We Hire For Difference and Fire Because They Are Not the Same

The Loudest Duck
Bringing true diversity to the workplace is a lot harder than we thought. It is more than just playing Noah and getting the numbers right—two of every kind. But, too often that’s as far as it goes. What is needed, says Laura Liswood in The Loudest Duck, is “more sophisticated leadership, conscious awareness, thought, behavior, and tools to reap the benefits of what true diversity can provide.”

Diversity has to be something deeper. True diversity requires a change in attitude and thinking. It requires a change in the way we think about people that are different—age, gender, race, accent, appearance, background, personality, religion or education—than we are. We all have unconscious reactions to people that are different. Liswood writes, “We are not talking about blatant inequities or discrimination in most of today’s professional world (although this still does occur). We are talking about unconscious belief, preferences, values, thoughts, and actions. These are what erode the promise of diversity.” To achieve true diversity, we need to examine what we believe; beliefs that we begin to develop at a very early age and continue to learn and reinforce throughout our lives.

“Getting true value out of diversity is much harder than was initially thought….Managing diversity requires heightened emotional intelligence, awareness, observation, and listening skills.” At the same time, Liswood argues, “employees have to take it upon themselves to get out of their comfort zones and learn to adjust to a company’s style, but not in a manner that merely shows compliance.” In today’s environment, whether the loudest duck gets heard or whether it gets its head chopped off, is not only a management issue, but additionally a large part of the responsibility lies with every individual to develop awareness and an understanding of what works and when in their particular situation. Throughout the book she offers tools and approaches to help you stretch yourself in the workplace.

The phrase “We hire for difference and fire because they are not the same,” sums up the dynamic very well. The Loudest Duck provides a framework to begin to do the inner work necessary to bring about true diversity.

The thing is, if you are not consciously inclusive of everyone, you will unconsciously narrow the type of players in your organization and never reap the benefits of true diversity. Accepting every kind of person is much harder than it sounds because we judge people differently based on our own internal filtering system that tells us what to value and what to ignore or tolerate. That’s where diversity needs to take hold if it is ever going to take hold in our organizations or in our communities.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:31 AM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources



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