Diversity needs to be more than skin deep

It's important not to get too comfortable, says consultant Shireen Meer.

by Shireen Meer

‘Diversity’ is, for many, a big, sometimes frightening buzzword, a compliance problem that needs to be managed. As a result, human resources departments dutifully note the race and sex of employees to publish in annual reports, and company boards often are criticised for being too white, too male and too old. But what do we really mean when we talk about diversity, and its benefits?

I’m not going to argue that companies should put into place properly compliant diversity policies. This is because in most jurisdictions it is illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation and age. Complying with the law is simply a no-brainer.

Instead, I’m going to advocate something more meaningful and useful: ‘inherent diversity’, diversity as a concept, not a two-dimensional tick-box policy.

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