What do variety or diversity mean for the world of work and our society? Some still understand this to mean gender equality or even sexual orientation. Others think of ethnic and cultural origins. However, if we’re looking for a common denominator in the multifaceted debate on diversity, we will tend to be talking about more fundamental issues, in particular the acceptance of different opinions and behaviours within the framework of certain ethical and moral principles.
Companies are well advised to establish these ethical and moral principles
For example, the way in which the employees in your company interact with each other across the various hierarchy levels. What is allowed, what is unacceptable? A written code of conduct is an important and meaningful basis for all professional interactions. As long as these rules are respected, everyone is free to do what they want. I once had the pleasure of visiting a company that professed to be a Christian community. The employees belonged to different religions, but the cooperation worked perfectly, because the basic rule of mutual tolerance was lived by all.
That brings us to the next step: If a company commits itself to a certain corporate culture, that culture must also be lived. And that means: Even slight exceptions must not be tolerated, otherwise this will be understood as a sign that the rules may be broken.
Another challenge lies in the role model function of executive management. If employees have new and unusual ideas and are able to implement them successfully, it makes sense to give such employees the necessary space. If employees who work well show that to others in a way that upsets other employees, executives are required to act as moderators. And as long as an employee does not violate ethical and moral rules, but only uses a form of communication that antagonises others, it is important to intervene and communicate. People have different personalities that come with different forms of communication. Creating the necessary awareness for this is the most important step in preventing possible conflicts. Unfortunately, this part of diversity is still often hidden. This is where people often prefer to say: the employee and company did not really “fit”. But are people then actually being self-critical enough? Might that actually have been the employee who would have led the company into the digital future?
If you want to know whether you are using the right amount of tolerance, respect and self-protection in your company: Count me in!