Kevan Hall, CEO of Global Integration recently attended a meeting in Mexico with one of our clients over the summer where they were discussing diversity and inclusion.
They made a fascinating distinction between inherent diversity and acquired adversity.
Inherent diversity consists of factors like gender, age, race, disability, sexual orientation or socio-economic background (though arguably that last one is not inherent as it could of course be acquired or made worse by individual choices).
Acquired diversity consists of a diversity of mindsets and ways of thinking that people acquire through their experiences. This includes factors like cross-functional, international, or cross business-line experiences, cultural fluency and language skills.
There may be some tension between these two forms of diversity with, for example, an international relocation being more difficult for people with certain family commitments.
Inherent diversity requires changes to our recruitment practices to effectively “buy in” underrepresented forms of diversity. It also requires a more inclusive way of working that both attracts and retains people with different life experiences and needs.
It seems that the way to encourage acquired diversity is through increased mobility and breadth of experience – both factors that are essential in complex matrix and global organizations where cross-functional and international working are the norm. It seems likely then that simply increasing the ability to move laterally across a global organisation will help you build increased acquired diversity.
Acquired diversity is easier to achieve for people in managerial and professional roles where mobility tends to be relatively higher and matrix an international working more common. This form of diversity becomes more and more valuable in increasingly globally integrated organizations there is a risk it may mitigate against other forms of diversity which are not as attracted by this mobility.
So which form of diversity is your organisation focusing on? It’s tempting but trite to simply say “both” how do these different forms of diversity meet your business objectives and what resources are you applying to each? How will you balance inherent and acquired diversity?