“Dialogue helps us to bridge the increasing diversity found within modern organisations today. It is through the exploration of meaning that we learn who each person is and how we can work together appropriately.”
- Glenna Gerard & Linda Elinor
The topic of diversity today is mostly seen as the "inclusion and visibility of persons of previously under-represented minority identities.” However, previous to this recent focus on the meaning of diversity, introduced in the 1990s, diversity was simply a difference in character or quality.
Difference is sometimes seen as potential for conflict or fragmentation. But if we see difference and diversity as an opportunity for knowledge and innovation, we can recognise that each person within an organisation or society possesses unique talents and experiences that can be contributed in a positive way. We are not limited to viewing diversity policies as a box-ticking exercise, and can reach across gender, age, ethnicity and experience to unlock and nurture potential in everyone. Studies have shown that diverse teams are smarter and create better results. So the question is, how can you support diversity in a way that makes all people feel included, valued and is also good for business?
It is our assumptions and unconscious biases that often create barriers to reframing difference and diversity as a positive strength. Challenging these assumptions in a critical and confrontational way will most likely result in increased conflict and fragmentation. It is only within an environment that fosters deep listening and non-judgement that people are able to become aware of their assumptions and biases and potentially change their thinking and behaviour as a result.
“Dialogue is the collective way of opening up judgements and assumptions.” - David Bohm
The practice of dialogue, supported by other creative facilitation techniques focusing on communication skills and relationship building provides a space of psychological safety for participants to come together, to voice, listen and learn from and with each other.