Determining the Real Value of Representation: Diversity of Perspective

Written by James O. Rodgers

It’s easy to take the “affirmative action approach” to representation. That’s when a company says “We’ve got 100 thousand employees, but only 2 percent of them are women. We have to go and artificially raise that number to 17 percent.” But this approach to representation is only surface-level. It doesn’t take into account the real value of representation: diversity of perspective.

Representation is not bad in and of itself. It’s a positive thing. But representation for representation’s sake is of little value. When people emphasize representation for its own sake, they only increase their business’s reputation — not its performance.

If you do get the representation – if you recruit and retain a mix of different people who fit the company’s culture — the question becomes: now what? How do I gain the management skills to utilize this range of diversity that I have? That’s always been the challenge of diversity management: whether you like it or not, you are going to have more diversity than you’ve ever had in the past. What do you do with that diversity?

Representing a Diversity of Perspectives

Diversity management is both a strategy and a capability. It’s both a plan of action and the ability to execute the plan for maximum results. It isn’t only recruiters and HR departments who need to have the skillset to foster diversity. Every manager needs to have the capabilities as well.

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A manager needs to ask, “How do I facilitate this mix of different perspectives?” That’s what representation really brings to the table: a diversity of perspectives. Representation adds value to a company because it brings intellectual variety. When you have people who are packaged differently, their unique life stories help them see the world differently. You don’t need to manage for artificial differences – you need to manage for different points of view.

Deliberate DiversityTM develops tools that drive managers toward fundamental, simple, principle-based ways of managing a diverse workplace. Deliberate DiversityTM helps managers leverage different perspectives with an eye on better results. Representation isn’t about making your company look good – it’s about bringing the best outsider ideas to the table, so that your company performs better.