Blogs

Jo Geraghty

Director

The rhythm of unity and diversity

Date added: 25th Jun 2014
Category: Culture of Diversity

As the Football World Cup winds on its merry way producing shocks, surprises and goals aplenty we are reminded more and more about the unifying force of sport.  The players may currently be on show for their countries but come the end of the tournament they will scatter back across the globe; showcasing their skills and passion for the benefit of their chosen clubs.

Perhaps that is why the slogan chosen for the 2014 World Cup is so appropriate in more ways than one.  “All in one rhythm” not only highlights the way in which Brazil is steeped in music and culture but it also represents the way in which people from across the globe unite in their passion for football.  In announcing the choice of slogan the organising committee hailed it as an “invitation to everybody, Brazilians and international visitors, to find and explore the new rhythm of Brazil: the rhythm of unity and diversity, the rhythm of innovation, the rhythm of nature, the rhythm of football and the rhythm of Brazilian culture.”

The rhythm of unity and diversity…   that’s a slogan which could hang on many a business leader’s door as a reminder of the way in which the diverse talents of individuals can come together in a united whole which produces something greater than the sum of the individuals.  And before you dismiss this thought as being so obvious it is not worth commenting on just take a minute to ask yourself how diversity of talent is celebrated in your organisation.

Let’s just look at some stereotypes.  Accountants are boring and quiet as they focus solely on precision and balancing the books. Salespeople are expansionist, have the gift of the gab and will promise anything to get that sale.  The legal team are so focused on not being sued that they will urge inaction every time.  Right?  Totally wrong actually but when these stereotypes mix with a belief that the business could not run without x department the result is silo-driven isolationism.

We’ve seen it in action time and time again.  Entire departments which believe that they are the only ones working hard; divisions which look in contempt on other areas of the organisation but whose team members won’t lift a finger to help relieve an overwork burden elsewhere.  Sadly no-one is above this back-biting, superiority contest.  We’ve even seen HR departments actively hold back the promotion prospects of those in certain areas of the organisation because the HR team simply has not taken the time to understand what that department does.

So whilst diversity is good, diversity without unity equals chaos.  Signs include:

  • Employees in one department working core hours only whilst others slog from dawn to dusk
  • System changes instigated for the benefit of one department but which cause extra work elsewhere
  • Preferential treatment given to individuals from one division
  • Toxic internal dialogue with team leaders indulging in a constant ‘one-upmanship’ battle
  • No inter-mingling of employees at lunch or social functions

If any of these signs are present then, put bluntly, it is time for a complete overhaul of the organisational culture.  Infighting tears organisations apart. Furthermore when there is infighting there is no hope for organisations to even think of moving towards a more open and collaborative way of working or of adopting a culture of innovation.  To use a footballing analogy, how can a team win if the goal keeper, backs, midfield and strike force players don’t communicate and work together.

Everyone has talents.  Celebrating diversity, celebrating talent through the creation of a strong and vibrant organisational culture results in a unified organisation in which everyone works together to create an exceptional product and provide an exceptional customer experience.  Wake up to the rhythm of unity and diversity and who knows where your journey will lead.

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