Batuhan: Diversity-A A +A
Friday, September 28, 2012
A NEW buzzword has been going around corporate circles of late.
Diversity. Yes, diversity.
And no, I do not mean in terms of products and service offerings. I mean diversity in the composition of its workforce and management.
The idea is rooted in the idea of inclusion, which is the business equivalent of democracy, and all being equal in terms of employment opportunities. Good idea too, in principle. After all, the more different your people are, the more different the ideas they generate will be.
The tricky thing though, as always, is in the implementation.
In “normal” companies where there is no formal policy of diversity and inclusion, employment into the organization just takes on its natural course.
Sometimes people get in on merit. Oftentimes, people of the same characteristics as those already inside are the ones who get in. That’s why it is common to see people from the same school, from the same towns, from the same economic class, and from the same fraternities working together – an Ateneo company, a Sigma Rho law firm, a Chinese retailer, etc.
In “diverse” companies, these barriers are supposed to be dismantled. So there is a policy to have as many sectors in the general population represented as possible. Not just Ateneo, UP and La Salle, but also PUP, FEU and UE. Not just Chinese, but ethnic Filipinos as well. And not just scions of the rich, but also those who come from the less privileged.
Not a bad idea, one has to say. After all, we have an equivalent thought in the
The party-list system is just about the same concept, applied in a political setting.
Sectors that are normally not well-represented by traditionally elected district representatives are allowed to nominate their own choices. In so doing, their voices will be heard, in what otherwise would be a majority-dominated Congress. And to some extent this has worked. Party-list stalwarts like Risa Hontiveros have shown that they are able to champion causes that marginalized sectors benefit from, which would otherwise be considered no-go areas by traditional politicians.
But there are problems too. Like which “marginalized” sectors should be allowed representation. Security guards? Teachers? People from Bicol? People from the Visayas? Tricycle drivers? What about tricycle drivers from Bicol? Or security guards from the Visayas?
You get the point.
Same thing with the diversity initiative. What sectors constitute diversity? What is more diverse, a management team composed of upper-class men and women all from Ateneo, UP and La Salle, or one made up of all men from different economic classes, coming from first, second and third-tier universities? A workforce composed of heterosexual and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Christians, or an all heterosexual staff of various religious backgrounds?
The fact is, someone’s diversity is another one’s similarity. And herein the problem lies.
Because an organization can easily make the case that it is diverse, when after all, when examined under the microscope, it is just as same old, same old as any other company out there.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 29, 2012.