Career Magazine

Diversity by Design

By Paragp

There’s a university andan organisation I know about which promote and protect diversity. Much more thansome others do. And consistently deliverresults. Also much more than some others do. Whether their performance isbecause of the diversity in their fabric, or in spite of it, is a matter best leftto your wisdom and dispensation.The university promotesand protects diversity by design.If you have a graduatedegree in any discipline you can seek admission to any of the post graduatecourses there. Admission tests for different courses are conducted on separatedays to allow the applicants a shot at many of them. While the question papers arein English, you can choose to write your answers in any of the listed languages.You have to answer any five out of the twenty five questions asked. Evenwithout prior background or preparation, you will always find your fivequestions to answer, since seven or eight questions usually pertain to topicsof general interest.Such open practices andother unrevealed algorithms of the admissions process guarantee that every newbatch has a fair representation of students from different regions, ethnicities,social classes, and income groups.Attending classes is notmandatory. You can take books to refer to during the exams. If you miss a test,professors will be quite comfortable to have you write a term paper and assigngrades. You can register for electivecourses in any other department. There are neither curfew hours nor boundarywalls in the hostels. The academic, administrative and financial councils ofthe institution have student representatives. Spontaneous teacher and studentsupport against injustice and wrongdoing is a common sight. Talent is on fulldisplay all the while and everywhere. Dissenters turn into collaborators andyet again into dissenters with ease.Pick any student, and askwhat is best about the place. Most likely, you will get the answer, “I can be me”.
Ask any teacher whether every student's 'I can be me' adversely affects the university's basic character and purpose. Most likely, you will get the answer, "not at all; the elements of our core remain unaffected, since, no student, even while acting and thinking alone, is against them".Switch your attention tothe organisation now. It is a multinational, which gradually turned diverse inthe course of entering and growing in different markets. The more diversepeople, practices, views and ideas they assimilated, the more they appreciatedthe needs and benefits of diversity.In recent years, its focuson diversity has become sharper, since it serves a more diverse set ofstakeholders and customers, needs diverse skills, and seeks to grow its sourcesof talent. That much is by design.In its operations in aparticular country though, the promotion and protection of diversity happened byaccident. The organisation grew so fast there that it hired good people of alltypes from just about anywhere. As a result, it now has lots of different models ofsuccess and ways of working for any employee to emulate. Lots of stereotypes stand broken. Everyperson finds at least some like-minded, even non-like-minded, supporters. And concludes, “the place doessupport me to be me”. The organisation has one more step to take, from ‘supporting’its people to be themselves to ‘desiring’ that they be so.Other organisations, where such an accident hasn't happened, and who are focussedexclusively on improving the diversity demographics, need to also get to a point where an employee would say, “looks like people here really want me to be me”.By design.

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