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Mar 16 2020

Diversity – one of the current ‘commandments’ of the hour. But... diversity in your own team?

Companies that still haven’t seriously taken up the topic of diversity are often considered antiquated. Indeed, nobody wants a totally homogeneous team in which everyone all functions or feels the same. It’s a well-known fact that heterogeneous groups are far more productive. But what about the reality of the situation? How well does it work in everyday life? Do people want diversity within their own ranks, or is it just wishful thinking that only applies to others?

A recent online study carried out by the website Glassdoor on ‘Diversity + Inclusion’ took a closer look at this question on the international stage. Overall, 37 percent of the respondents from Germany, UK, France and the USA stated that they had already experienced or at least observed discrimination. Half of all employees in the countries surveyed believe that their company should do more to promote diversity. However, it is more likely to be the younger employees who see a change as necessary rather than many of their older colleagues.

Interestingly, around 10 percent fewer respondents in Germany agreed with this statement compared to their colleagues in other countries. However, this does not necessarily mean that diversity is particularly well implemented in Germany. In fact, the opposite is the case. In an international comparison, many German companies can hardly claim to be diverse: rather, they are homogeneously positioned. On the plus side, this means that there are fewer grounds that could lead to discrimination. But it has also become clear that many people feel that diversity is a matter for others rather than something they’d like to see within their own ranks. When it comes to themselves, people often prefer to work with colleagues who are as similar as possible to them. Therefore, it makes a difference here whether you’re choosing co-workers for yourself or for third parties.

While most of the participants associate diversity with creativity and innovation, they fear that working with people who have different views, speak a different language or have an unfamiliar cultural lifestyle could be rather difficult. And the more it affects the person themselves, the more pronounced these concerns become. For this reason, many employees prefer like-minded people in their own team rather than a diverse team player, someone who may create controversy by bringing in distinctly different views.

The diversity survey conducted by Hager Unternehmensberatung last year also showed comparable results. Many companies have already recognised the importance and the added value that diversity brings. However, very few of the participants surveyed have a fixed strategy that they follow. So although the knowledge has already reached most people it is often not actively put into practice in their own ranks. Diversity will only become normal when we no longer have to think about it and discuss it.

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