Different ways of working across cultures and generations have become prominent in today’s global and complex organisations. How a leader embraces, coordinates and acts upon differences in the workplace is key to achieving business goals while supporting organisational identity and sustaining employee engagement.
I met with Change Management Consultant and author of “The Impact of Diversity on Global Leadership Performance. LEAD³” Sylvana Storey (pictured right) to learn more about the topic.
In her book Storey explains:
“Diversity is often seen as a problem for global business leaders – either because leaders in mature markets driven by compliance are experiencing ‘diversity fatigue’ or, leaders in emerging markets don’t always believe diversity is ‘relevant’ to their context.
“However, when diversity is seen from a ‘big picture’ perspective then it is acknowledged as being vital to global growth, sustainability and maintaining strategic advantage – it actually represents a huge commercial opportunity, but only if it is correctly understood and managed with this purpose in mind.”
In this video interview Storey shares her personal experience with discrimination – due to the colour of her skin or just for being a woman, and suggests what companies can do to help their workplaces be more diverse.
She also discusses three key dimensions of diversity: Structural diversity, which considers demographic and systemic differences; Cognitive diversity, which relates to the different ways of thinking, and Behavioural diversity, which pertains to the different ways of behaving.
“Organisations are complex adaptive systems that embody both technical and human processes. It is the humanness and quality of our relationships that ultimately drives an organisation’s success and therefore the focus on inclusion, engagement and collaboration that lies at the heart of diversity is also the heart of successful change.”
A framework for leadership and diversity
Storey gathered the views of a multitude of senior leaders while working with 7 multinationals from 7 different sectors across 22 countries. That research enabled her to develop an interactive tool called LEAD³, which she uses when consulting business leaders. It “presents a change management process for leadership and diversity that is focused and aligned to the strategic business objectives.”
Storey believes that many opportunities can be realised through LEAD³ including innovation, customer-centricity, enhanced brand reputation, new collaborative ways of working, increased market share and penetration into new markets.
“A leader who successfully embraces diversity will enhance their own reputation as well as that of the organisation, and will make their role easier by garnering the support of the organisation to sustain itself through periods of rapid and discontinuous change. The fundamental idea that diversity creates strength is evident when diversity works, just look around at the increasing success of global businesses that get it right.”