The Energizer

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

The Critical Connection Between Resilient Workplaces And Diversity

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Monday, January 28, 2019
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The standard concept of sustainability is the capacity of biological systems to remain diverse and productive over time—like healthy wetlands and old growth forests. In the workplace, sustainability is equally important in considering the two-legged biological "systems" that sit in cubicles, drive to sales calls, conduct virtual meetings, perform surgery, write manuals, handle customers, and a host of other activities.

For an organization to survive and thrive in this competitive, 24/7 world, resiliency translates into staying power—staying power that keeps great employees and clients; staying power that offers up innovation and collaboration; staying power that fosters smart productivity without exhausting the people who perform. 

Without that staying power, there is NO sustainability. And there can be no staying power without diversity. Imagine an ocean heavily weighted with sharks. In time, food would be depleted and the sharks would turn on each other (this might sound like some companies you know). 

If everyone in an organization looked alike, spoke alike, and thought alike—in time the organization would shrivel and disappear because the world and a customer base no longer resemble a singular entity. From my vantage point as both a teacher and student of resiliency, I believe that resiliency of thought is the next horizon for Diversity and Inclusion programs. This article is designed to add another dimension: do we both seek and listen to others whose THOUGHTS are different from ours?

The LA TIMES reported that "months before California's new disability claims system debuted, a whistle-blower told his superiors it contained errors that could mar a successful launch. His predictions proved accurate."  However, diversity of thought was NOT acceptable and, for EDD employee Michael O'Brien, reassignment was in order.

From my work within a variety of organizations, failure to listen to others who offer a contrary viewpoint can hamper progress, profitability, and performance. Here are two recommendations to encourage the fostering and acceptance of diverse thought:

1.  Ask for input from the youngest or newest employees. Here's why. They come with fresh eyes, un-jaded by politics or personalities. Do something with the input and let them know what you did. Thank them for their input. Use what you can and let them know what pieces you cannot put into action and why.  Do this on a regular basis and I guarantee you will create a wellspring of enthusiasm and commitment.

2.  Seek input from those “closest” to the action. Soldiers on a battlefield have a far different view of the terrain and the enemy than generals sitting in a war room. The truck driver who makes long-distance hauls knows more about what is needed in a dependable 18-wheeler than someone sitting in purchasing. Be sure to recognize all those to seek and report out what they learned from others. Create a "what did I learn today" tweet post that reflects  a new way of looking at something.  The more you encourage diversity of thought, the more resilient and sustainable your organization becomes.

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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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