Benefits & Callenges of Diversity
Bill Cottringer

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi.

The rest of the workforce diversity story is unfolding as every great social change brings sometimes unexpected problems with its solution. True diversity in the workforce emphasizes unconditional inclusion of all employee characteristics and backgrounds; physical, mental, emotional and social abilities; gender, age, geographical, religious and philosophical differences, and the full gamut of personal and work values and perspectives.

But diversity is not the end goal, because at some point the diversity must somehow be unified to multiply the benefits for employers, employees, customers and the public. This is the challenge for company, government agencies and non-profit leaders today. Knowing diversity can bring some weeds with the green grass, is half the solution to this new potential problem. And of course, diversity advocates will always have noisy exclusivity opponents with annoying differences to try and reconcile.

The emerging benefits of workforce diversity may offer the solution to the problem of unifying diversity with a healthy sense of balance between employer and employee, where both sides win and can pass that winning outcome off to the customers and general public and at the same time, satisfy Gandhi’s beauty and test of our civilization.

Diversity Benefits for Employers

Research reveals these gains for employers practicing diversity:

• Improved company image.
• Better customer service and community relations.
• Closer connection with the local market.
• Increased employee motivation, engagement, productivity and retention.
• Inspired collaboration, creativity and innovation in decision-making, problem-solving, conflict resolution and team building.
• Wider talent and perspective net for efficiency and effectiveness.
• Welcomed open communication and fostered trust.

Diversity Benefits for employees

On the other side of the coin here are the benefits to employees:

• Opportunities for personal and professional growth and development.
• Blending of unique differences and common similarities for a more whole self.
• Improved motivation, engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction.
• Increased interpersonal and communication, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.
• Open-mindedness to understand, accept and learn from varied perspectives.
• Exposure to different personal and work values.
• Improved communication skills, empathy and compassion, and relationships in team building and belonging.

At the end of the day, it will likely be the employees who figure out how to move towards the middle ground between widespread diversity and the strong sense of unity that brings everything together where it ultimately belongs. This will take creative collaboration and compromise to dissolve unimportant differences and reconcile common values and best perspectives. The ideal outcome allows us to maintain our individual uniqueness while being able to use this fingerprint in contributing to the organization’s productivity and everyone’s job satisfaction and well-being.

What the Diversity and Democracy “experiments” require in order to reach full maturity is a drastic paradigm shift—from the traditional win-lose competitive mentality model to a win-win, cooperation perspective, emphasizing collaboration and compromise. As the talent, personal difference, value, and perspective net continues to widens and the resulting diversity begins to unify, Gandhi will be pleased in spirit.

“A lot of different flowers make a lovely bouquet.” ~Islamic Proverb.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206)-914-1863 or