The power of diversity

The power of diversity

Reading time: 1:45secs

Humanity is furious – mostly with itself. We’re intolerant of our power of diversity. We tell ourselves stories about one another based on our individual and collective suite of evidence-free biases. This is creating an angry, polarised world.

Organizations have an opportunity to harness the immense power inherent in our collective humanity.

The benefits of a high-trust, diverse team are vast. Employing people from disparate backgrounds introduces an assortment of perspectives that promote creativity and productivity.

But a diverse team isn’t necessarily a high-performing one. In fact, Harvard has shown that if diverse teams aren’t actively managed for inclusion, they can underperform homogenous ones.

For diverse teams to be effective, there needs an entrenched culture of trust. Trust bolsters teams through challenging times. The celebration of difference engenders a belief that there’s care for everyone’s personal success.

The power of diversity

By contrast, a low-trust team constantly seeks evidence to prove why they can’t trust. Often individuals of the minority group are targeted. This is a totally pointless strategy, that, left unchecked, will ultimately drive the team into mediocrity.

People need to be comfortable with bringing their unique perspectives to the table. For that to happen, the environment needs to feel inclusive.

No amount of BBEEE legislation can make an individual believe they’re a valued member of a team. Neither do fancy, off-site team-building events with smooth-talking facilitators, or the obligatory Heritage Day wearing of traditional garb to the office.

Belongingness stems from seemingly insignificant daily actions that demonstrate tolerance and kindness – when no one is looking.

Very few organizations manage to shape a culture of genuine inclusivity where a person can unashamedly flourish as themselves.

The power of diversity

Diverse teams bring an assortment of perspectives to the table.

Most companies naively follow mainstream labour laws, empowerment codes, HR practices, generic CSR programmes, and hopeful community outreach programmes – as a sole means of demonstrating care for their people.

Transformation of a heart and a mind takes place at an individual level. It requires genuine intent.

If you’d like to release the potential of diversity in your company, school, or organisation, we can help you do that in an authentic, amusing, and poignant way.

We’ll demonstrate the power of diversity where our human prejudice comes from and how, as individuals, we can find the best in our fellow human beings.

Our programme addresses diversity from four standpoints:

  • the lived experience of a black medical professional,
  • a real-life example of how diversity can work,
  • human biology – why and how we are like we are,
  • how everything begins with trust (a Harvard Business School model)

Contact us for a conversation about your specific needs.

Reading time: 1.27 mins

Today is the Day of Reconciliation in South Africa.

The only country that dedicates a public holiday to promote social cohesion. And to celebrate our nation’s unity, following a divided past.

The verb reconcile is from the Latin words re, meaning “again,” and conciliar, meaning “to make friendly.”

In accounting terms, reconciliation means to compare two sets of financial records. To check that the figures are correct. To establish its completeness.

Some companies reconcile their transactions every day. It is the best practice in certain industries.

Daily reconciliation allows one to identify minor errors early. Before they become major blunders with far-reaching consequences.

In human terms, the act of reconciliation is about making one view or belief compatible with another. It is the precursor to peace.

Shouldn’t we be reconciling for more than one day a year?

5-steps-of-reconciliation

Renias and I discussed a few practical steps to achieve unity – based on our journey together.

Here they are:

  1. Acknowledge your biases and differences of opinion. This requires robust self-assessment. An honest reflection of your most deep-seated feelings. Everyone has prejudice thoughts about other groups.
  2. Get uncomfortable. Be prepared to travel outside of your physical, emotional, and cultural safe zone. Have a difficult conversation. Visit their home, church, or cultural event. To fully understand takes courage. It’s often inconvenient.
  3. Be vulnerable. Be open to the possibility of being criticized. Freely apologise or accept an apology. Don’t allow the fear of reprisal to hinder the process. A defense strategy is an obstruction to reconciliation.
  4. Create clarity about your expectations and limits. Communicate what you will do to reconcile. This helps to define your position and intended actions. It frees both parties.
  5. Follow through. Immerse yourself in the life and culture of another person or group. Learn the language, for example. And be aware that token gestures will be interpreted as such.

Keep moving forward. It’s never perfect.

As a guiding question this Reconciliation Day ask yourself; do you want to be right, or do you want to be free?

Please comment if you have had experiences of reconciliation that you would like to share.

For more on reconciliation, read our latest book Changing a Leopard’s Spots

Last month Renias and I helped a game reserve start a leopard habituation project in the Waterberg. A Tracker Academy project to track, find and form relationships with leopards. For the benefit of ecotourism lodges in the area.

During the day we tracked leopards. In the evenings, we made a fire, braaied our food and chatted freely.

Our conversations spanned several topics, and in his usual manner, Renias introduced humour at every possible juncture. He loves making people laugh! And I thoroughly enjoy the banter.

We spoke in both Shangaan and English.

It struck me that the spirit of our conversations is unique. In stark contrast to the hostile tone of the current national conversation. Especially between people of disparate cultures.

Just before bed, Renias reminded me of lions we’d watched hunting a wildebeest at Londolozi.

We had been talking politics and I sensed he had something important to say.

Whilst sprinting for its life the wildebeest glanced back at the fast-approaching lion – at exactly the wrong moment. Causing the animal to crash into a small tree.

The obstacle gifted the lion the extra split second it needed. Ultimately killing the poor wildebeest.

Although macabre, Renias’s theatrics in acting out the scene was very entertaining. Please watch the video if you haven’t seen it yet.

Metaphorically speaking, Ren wants South Africans to know that we should not look backwards. Otherwise, we will be killed.

It is true that if the wildebeest had not looked back, he may still be alive. But equally, his rear-guard vigilance alerted him to the danger in the first place.

Perhaps he looked backwards once too many times?

But something bothered me about the story’s message. I reflected further and realised that for many people the past still haunts them.

It’s not so easy to just drop emotionally charged memories. Above all, trauma.

Renias’s message is that we should rather focus on the now. Build relationships now. Contribute to the country now. Instead of dwelling on the past or fearing the future.

Easier said than done.

I have noticed a trend where white people avoid talking about the past. And black people (and those affected by apartheid) demonstrate the need to address our common history.

One group feels guilty and/or fears retribution. Whilst the other desires acknowledgement and reparation. Both are expected human responses given the circumstances.

The problem is that no ‘side’ will give an inch. Consequently, attitudes have begun to harden – driving us even further apart.

It may be wise to suggest that we collectively engage with both the past and future. The old adage of ‘the tyranny of OR versus the genius of AND’ comes to mind.

The question is, how?

Buy our latest book called Changing a Leopard’s Spots

Renias and I advocate for ordinary people to intentionally form meaningful cross-cultural relationships.

To create interpersonal bonds where logic, empathy and being authentically you, can flourish. As it turns out, these are also the main drivers of high-trust relationships.

As a country, we must focus on the only moment that really matters – now.

Perhaps then we have a chance of survival. A chance to escape the charging lion of the eventual demise of our beautiful country.

What can you do today to improve the state of our relationships?

Read our latest book called Changing a Leopard’s Spots

In the Netflix hit My Octopus Teacher, Craig Foster showed that a relationship with a wild animal can have a profound impact on the life of a human being.

I observed with interest the public reaction to Craig’s relationship with that female octopus. “It’s amazing that one can form a relationship with an octopus!” is one comment I’ve heard repeatedly.

My question is; is it so amazing? Beyond the fact that we are not accustomed to seeing humans and octopuses being buddies.

The octopus is the world’s smartest invertebrate. More importantly, it is a fellow being with which we share the planet.

Craig read our book Changing a Leopard’s Spots and had this to say…see below.

Changing a Leopard’s Spots is now available in most leading South African bookstores, and online as a eBook. Find it here.

The octopus fulfills a particular role in maintaining the ecological balance that humans need to survive. Like every living creature does.

If we are to make progress as a species, we need the octopus to thrive.

At a deeper level, we know that our lives, and its life, are inextricably linked. You felt that when the pyjama shark nearly killed her.

It is clear from the documentary that that octopus was capable of experiencing joy.

It played with a small school of fish with the same playfulness I’ve seen my two-year-old daughter interact with our bantam chickens in the garden.

It also demonstrated stress and fear, not to mention ingenuity, when the shark chased her. And when it bit off one of her tentacles it certainly looked like she was in pain. She didn’t move for days.

She was able to perceive, show awareness to, and respond to Craig in the same way a dog would. And even a human would.

This is important because these are the elements that we use to define sentience. Until quite recently, humans believed we were the only true feeling beings.

In this instance, Craig’s octopus recognised the sentience in him.

There are similar stories of humans forming relationships with obscure animals. But sadly, most go untold.

Craig’s film shows us that, even in our collective darkest hour, we can still create a relationship with the natural world.

We recognise intelligence in our fellow human brothers and sisters without question. Craig’s story inspires us to search for consciousness in nature too.

Stories of lions and leopards are exciting. But in this instance, Netflix recognised the potential of humanity’s relationship with nature’s ‘ordinary’ citizens, too.

We need more true stories of genuine human-animal bonds.

For as long as we continue believing that we are superior to and separate from nature, the sooner we will destroy our home.

If we are to survive as a species, we need to actively seek out the sentience in all life that exists around us.

Just like they do in us.

Have ever had a relationship with a wild animal? Tell us your story in the comments.