The EFMD business magazine

The EFMD business magazine

Time to say: “Je suis diversity”

Global migration has introduced us to new communities, and new religious practises. Edwina Pio asks how we can best reconcile them.

How we handle the challenges of today will determine the future of our fragile planet and our humanity. Immigration is changing the composition and texture of workforces both nationally and globally.

The world contains over 5,000 ethno-cultural groups. Technology, cheap airfares and the global economy have scattered people in countless combinations around the planet and in organisations.

We need to move away from solitary identities that stereotype and put people and organisations into boxes. An individual may be a mother, sister, daughter, corporate lawyer, a Muslim, from Afghanistan and a New Zealand national.

Our corporate organisations need to ask some urgent questions: What if our actions were imbued with the sacred? What if activism in organisations evokes better local society and responsible global community? What if sacred activism signals the performance of a deeper understanding and mindful actions for organisations?

We need to understand were the sweet spot is in organisations as we scrutinise gateways of opportunity and pathways to success and influence. And yet organisations are reflections of the environment and so we have to look outside organisations to understand what is happening inside them.

Re-storying our relatedness may mean replacing a master narrative with multiple narratives, each of them true in a particular context and within a given set of circumstances, dependent on religion, geography, culture, migration history and economic prowess. On a planet which is so diverse, perhaps the mantra that needs chanting is Je suis diversity.

Diversity is always politically charged and is a complex weave of historical and socio-economic legacies. These weaves affect the practices of organisational and societal life.

There are many approaches to viewing diversity, including ones that primarily focus on the negatives of diversity.

However, a positive approach to viewing diversity asks the following questions: What is the nature of opportunities minority groups have access to? How does diversity impact group performance in areas such as creativity?

This approach focuses on what makes individuals push towards optimal functioning within the context of five diversity megatrends within which religion is embedded.

Time to say: “Je suis diversity”

See more articles from Vol.09 Issue 03 – ’15.

Edwina Pio is New Zealand’s first Professor of Diversity. She teaches at the Business & Law School of the Auckland University of Technology.
A Fulbright alumnus, she is Research Leader of the Immigration and Inclusion Group, Co-director of the Global Centre for Equality and Human Rights and Associate Director of the New Zealand India Research Institute.

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