If you hire people from underrepresented backgrounds you’re tackling diversity…that’s what we’re told.
And, in a pretty reductive way, it’s true.
But if we dig a little deeper it’s clear that there’s more to diversity than a check box on a sheet of paper.
For example, I have white friends who I have much more in common with than many South-Asian people.
This was a lot less common 20-30 years ago where people with similar backgrounds had more closely aligned world-views.
But as society is becoming increasingly complex and messy, superficial tags are no longer enough to reflect the true diversity in our country.
Of course, I’m not saying it isn’t important to hire people from different underrepresented backgrounds, but in many ways, that’s the easy bit.
The truer measure of diversity for me, and one I suspect we all find tougher, is to build work cultures where you can comfortably hire people who are truly, fundamentally different to each other.
Where people feel comfortable coming to work with people who hold almost diametrically opposed outlooks on life, politics, society and the rest.
Whilst shared work values are important, we should be able to work with and respect people who we fundamentally disagree with regarding matters outside of work.
Where we draw the line is difficult; like most people I like working with people who I like, but work is work.
It is *not* life.
Being able to work with people who are very different to you both on the inside and outside is surely a truer measure of diversity, and our ability to make things work in our increasingly fragmented and polarised society.
Maybe we all have a lot of growing up to do.
– Written by Azar Hussain