When Diversity is a Way of Life

So there has been a lot of talk around the humanitarian crisis in the US the past few weeks as it relates to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Diversity in business has been the trending topic. Many companies are examining their diversity policy, and some have gone as far as to list the breakdown of people of color in their organizations.

As a black Business owner, I have owned 5 different Jiffy Lube in Canada since 2008. Since ownership, by choice, I have had to build a diverse organization.

As someone who is born in Jamaica, living in Canada and married to an American citizen, I know the racial divide has been far worse in the USA than in Canada.

As Eckhart Tolle says, “certain countries in which many acts of collective violence have been suffered or perpetuated have a heavier collective pain-bodies than others. That is why older nations tend to have stronger pain bodies”.

Tolle went on to say that younger countries such as Canada, Australia or Switzerland tend to have lighter collective pain-bodies. Of course in those countries, people still have their personal pain-body to deal with.

Racism does exist in Canada and it can also be regional. To say there is no racism would be foolish. However, my experience has been very different from our neighbours to the south.

My Learning about Diversity

In 2017 I completed my MBA and one of the topics I wrote about was diversity in a course called “Understanding Organizations Through People”. I will be referencing some of the research I did on the topic.

Langton, Robbins, and Judge in 2010, wrote that “Organizations increasingly are having to face diversity concerns as workplaces become more heterogeneous”.

The bottom line is diversity should not be a trend but a way of life. Diversity encompasses gender, national origin, age, disability, domestic partners, and religion. Realizing this, I created a workplace that is heterogeneous.

Being self-employed, I implemented systems that would ensure my organization is diverse. This was done through our hiring process. We wanted to have a community business, which reflected the neighborhood in which we live.

Many organizations have attempted to incorporate diversity initiatives into their workplaces to improve relations among co-workers

It was encouraging to see that organizations are making conscious choices to become more diverse. With such highly charged topics, it is important to allow room for those who are in the minority to express their feelings as to how they have been affected.

The fact is having a diverse organizational culture brings out unique contributions from different groups of workers. The value is a more thriving business.

Activities and Behaviours I Have Initiated in My Business

Since ownership, one of the key activities I initiated in my company with regards to diversity is making sure our workplace is a reflection of the community. Most of our stores are located in multicultural neighbourhoods.

We have older residents who are referred to as the founding neighbours. Their homes were the first built when the neighborhood got started.

There are nursing homes mixed with daycares, schools, different churches and businesses.

This approach would be best for us because we would be living our diversity instead of just reading or talking about it.

For Black Business owners, creating a diverse staff is imperative for fear that the customers will be uneasy.

In one community where we bought one of our stores, we had to be cognizant about which ethnic group we hired because we were told that the area did not support the other lube store in the area because they had too many Pilipinos working there.

Many times you make the decision not to be the face of your business for fear that it will not be supported.

So often we take the role of silent investors.

Benefits of Diversity

McShane and Steene, who published “Introduction to Organizational Behaviour” stated that “diversity can become a competitive advantage by improving decision making and team performance on complex tasks…teams with some form of diversity make better decisions on complex problems”.

What we have experienced by hiring a diverse team, is a team of workers that is a reflection of the community and at the same time we have had one of the highest performing stores in the franchise network.

Another positive outcome is the benefit for the customers and the community. Moreover, “many businesses report that having a diverse workforce has improved customer service and creativity”, wrote McShane and Steen. We have found that to be true.

Let me know your thoughts on this article.

Do you believe your organization is diverse?

2 Comments

  1. Kay

    Great article!
    My current workplace is diverse however there is still room for improvement.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      Great to hear that there is diversity in your workplace. Yes, many corporations have room for growth.

      Reply

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