“Organizations that truly leverage difference cultivate the capabilities to engage with and learn from diverse stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and communities.” – Martin Davidson, The End of Diversity As We Know It
I first saw mention of The End of Diversity As We Know It on Twitter during the fall. As someone who dislikes the traditional notion of diversity, I was intrigued by the title. I contacted Martin Davidson the author begging for a review copy. I just knew it was something I wanted to share with our readers, and I was right!
According to Davidson in The End of Diversity As We Know It, the current model of “managing diversity” is not working. For it to succeed we need to transform our way of thinking into “leveraging difference” or using those those differences that make us stronger to succeed.
So how can we do this?
Davidson offers us not only tips but a proven strategy to achieve this. Obviously, all of the tactics revolve around difference. The first step is to see difference followed by understanding difference and finally engaging difference. This last step is the one that usually gets omitted in traditional diversity strategies.
Seeing difference is important, because it may not be as simple as the differences we can see. Difference can take many forms, and as Davidson points out learning about them is strategically important for your organization. But of course, you might run into barriers, and so Davidson offers helpful solutions and tips to maximize how you see difference.
Understanding difference is the part where the information you have gathered is analyzed. At this stage, Davidson gives my favorite bit of advice: be curious. That is really where you start understanding difference. Once you can see it and learn more about difference then you can engage it and leverage it.
Engaging difference is where the real change occurs. After preparing yourself and your organization to see and understand difference, engaging difference is where it all comes together. Davidson tells a fascinating story of an organization that leveraged mature workers and workers with developmental disabilities to transform and increase their entire work production.
So while I came to the book with a skepticism toward diversity, Martin Davidson (who I might add is a Cleveland native) convinced me that there is a future after “managed diversity” and that is “leveraged difference” which to me leads to an overall more respectful workplace.