First of all ‘Diversity’ is important because our country, increasingly consist of various cultural, racial, gender, people with a range of abilities and disabilities as well as many different ethnic groups. We can learn from one another, but first we must have a level of understanding about each other in order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation. It also makes perfect sense economically to engage with people from all groups in your community.
A diverse organisation has more intellectual power, provided people can be ‘who they are’ at work. This then allows them to share their culture, knowledge and skills, it makes them feel valued and they are more likely to repay their employer with loyalty and passion.
A great starting point for everyone (Employers, staff, prospective staff) can be to adopt the following Māori values;
One of the fundamental principles in Māori culture, manaakitanga is the enactment of mana-enhancing behaviour towards others. It is a measurement of people’s ability to extend kindness and generosity. The concept of manaakitanga includes understanding tapu sacredness and mana dignity. In our relationships, we are acutely aware of our mana and the mana of others.
The people are our wealth. Whanaungatanga is about being part of a larger whole. Māori are related to all living things and thus express whanaungatanga with their surroundings. Whanaungatanga is about knowing you are not alone, but that you have a wider set of connections that provide support, assistance, nurturing, guidance and direction when needed. Understanding of roles and responsibilities are also part of whanaungatanga. Whanaungatanga embodies the ambitions of collectivism. Interdependence with each other rather than independence is the goal.
Rangatiratanga describes the attributes of a rangatira leader and how these are given expression through humility, diplomacy, generosity, resilience and empowerment. We understand the importance of practicing what you preach, walking the talk, following through on commitments made, integrity and honesty.
Focused on developing and maintaining a unity of purpose and direction and avoiding approaches and decisions that lead to division and disharmony. A commitment through oneness of mind and action to achieving its vision emulates the practice of Kotahitanga. All are encouraged to make their contribution, to have their say. It is the consensus of the collective that determines what is best for the group.
There are many other values we could add, however I believe if an organisation truly adopts these values and nurture their staff to understand them fully, you then have the environment you will need to attract diverse talent and more importantly develop an environment where they most like to stay.
This is not about putting the values up on your wall, its about running masterclass sessions where the value is fully discussed and people are encourage to talk about this approach and how they feel about them. Management needs to re-enforce these values and champions within the team should also be encouraged to help people understand WHY and how they are used.
So how do we build our Diverse team?
The majority of organisations will need to change the way they recruit by moving from a reactive ‘I hope people apply to my advert’ to a proactive environment where you build talent networks, marketing channels, talent pools, develop appropriate employment branding to use in these channels i.e. do not just post job adverts into them.
You will use different approaches to target the diverse audience you are looking for. Essential if you want to build a true talent pool of diverse people, is to develop relationships with other organisations that are happy collectively working with you to build a pool for your group. This concept is foreign for many organisations, yet collectiveness is such a powerful tool for finding talent, keeping the pool engaged and helping each other when looking for ‘hard to find talent’.
Get to know each other.
Once everyone truly understands the values above you can start to get to know each other in a ‘safe’ environment. Simple staff activities can help with this process. In the past I have found ‘pot luck’ lunches where people bring food they normally cook and share with each other and explain where the recipes came from etc.
Another approach is to have someone write staff stories which are shared across the team. These stories bring people closer together as they see similar cuircumstances and find common ground to talk about.
When will you know you have a diverse organisation?
When your board, executive team and your workforce are full with diversity. At this stage you will not only see a diverse workforce but you have the chance to create a great culture and high performing team who are able to tackle problems many different ways using ideas and solutions from a the range of different thinking people you have.
Hope you found this helpful.
Coach/Talent Management Consultant
M. 021 911 722
PS. Yes, I am happy to work with organisations who are keen to adopt this approach.
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