Home Concepts Ethics DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION 3.0


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Anthropology and traditional interculturalism are also very helpful here to describe cultural differences among nationalities and other groups. Geert Hofstede (2001) has, among others, compared cultural characteristics between various countries. Other researchers have contrasted different generations (e.g., Generation X, Generation Y, Baby Boomers). The intention is to become mindful of differences; to avoid judging people solely by our standards but strive instead to understand their worldview. We promote inclusion by welcoming and integrating people from different cultures.

D&I 1.0 is concerned with hiring/gathering people from various groups (e.g., avoiding leaving out minorities) as well as with promoting mutual understanding and respect. This is done notably by facilitating genuine human encounters between people from diverse backgrounds.

The case for D&I 1.0 is not solely a matter of ethics. It is not only about striving for equality, or even for equity: ‘treating everyone justly according to their circumstances’, which involves ‘addressing imbalance’ (Milken Institute School of Public Health, 2020). Attracting and retaining talent has become a challenge after the Covid pandemic. This phenomenon has been referred to as the ‘Great Resignation’ (Cook, 2021) and the ‘Great Attrition’ (De Smet et al., 2021). Aaron De Smet and his colleagues report: ‘The top three factors employees cited as reasons for quitting were that they didn’t feel valued by their organisations (54%) or their managers (52%) or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51%). Notably, employees who classified themselves as non-White or multiracial were more likely than their White counterparts to say that they had left because they didn’t feel they belonged at their companies’ (De Smet et al., 2021). In a time of great resignation/attrition, organisations can ill afford to shun the talents of diverse groups of people.

D&I 1.0 is still much needed and constitutes the majority of D&I initiatives. To institutionalise D&I 1.0 in an effective and sustainable fashion, education in social psychology and in anthropology is essential. Hopefully these disciplines will become part of coaches’ and managers’ educational curricula, but in the meantime the knowledge is already freely available for anyone ready to make the effort to acquire it.

Case study

I was invited to coach an international executive team (primarily European). The team was composed of 11 members representing six different nationalities. Although there were more men than women (eight versus three respectively), the regional director of the company and several other senior executives were women. In this team, D&I 1.0 seemed quite natural. However, this is not to say that the company as a whole was immune from racism. Building on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, the company took new measures, notably hiring and empowering more local managers in various continents.

D&I 2.0: Internal (or cognitive) diversity

At this stage, the categorical thinking that potentially gives rise to stereotyping and discrimination is avoided. Beyond demographics, D&I 2.0 focuses on diverse mental models.

Cass Sunstein has shown that diversity ‘in terms of ideas and perspectives, not necessarily along demographic lines’ (i.e., cognitive diversity) allows the promotion of creativity and innovation (2015).

Intercultural coaching (Rosinski, 2003) is meant to do this in practice, by unleashing the power that resides in cultural diversity, regardless of its demographic origin. The Cultural Orientations Framework (COF) assessment (Rosinski, 2018) facilitates the understanding of salient cultural characteristics (such as time management approaches, organisational arrangements, communication patterns, modes of thinking, etc.) for individuals, teams and organisations. It also offers a concrete way to leverage cultural differences.

Inclusion at this level is about the synthesis of cultural differences (‘and’ versus ‘or’) to promote unity in diversity. People don’t only feel welcomed and respected. They have the sense that their different viewpoints are seen as opportunities rather than as threats. They feel they belong and can thrive, in the interests of all parties and stakeholders.

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