Diversity 2.0

Andrés Tapia has a compelling vision. Tapia believes demographic changes and the complex set of problems facing humankind will force the integration of knowledge from the silos that much knowledge resides in today. As an example, Tapia points to the field of behavioral economics that integrates knowledge from the fields of psychology and economics. As part of this trend, Tapia argues that the physical and social separation of people based on their differences will also move toward integration. He describes this vision as Diversity 2.0.

Tapia is Hewitt Associates’ chief diversity officer and the author of The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity. Tapia sees diversity as a broader term that includes such differences as ethnicity, male/female, religious background, sexual preference, temperament, thinking styles, etc. Tapia asserts that Diversity 1.0 has been about the mix of people. It’s defensive and programmatic in nature (e.g., affinity groups, diversity recruiting, diversity fairs, mentoring and diversity learning). Tapia believes as organizations evolve, they will develop an offensive mindset that embraces diversity and inclusion. Diversity 2.0 is about making the mix of people effectively work in a way that benefits the organization. By doing so, organizations will also better understand their diverse customers.

Diversity officers, whom Tapia views as cultural anthropologists, will guide the move to Diversity 2.0. Through training, co-learning, consulting and storytelling (e.g. how cross-cultural competency helped close deal X or improved organizational task Y), a chief diversity officer builds individual and organizational cross-cultural competency. At Hewitt, Tapia developed a course on diversity and inclusion that has been completed by 14,000 participants and another 100,000 of Hewitt’s clients will complete it over the next two years.

In support of his Diversity 2.0 vision, Tapia points to the election of President Obama and what he describes as the Obama Era. In his book, he explores eight cultural implications from Obama’s election: inclusion is a transformative force; whatever we do has global impact; diversity and inclusion requires intentionality; we’ll experience a renaissance of values-driven decision making; we must have a heightened focus on results; the bottom up is as important as the top down; both/and trumps either/or; and true diversity and inclusion requires calling out our differences, not minimizing them.

I believe Andrés Tapia is right. Obama is an excellent example of a leader whose election was possible because of greater inclusion in society. Obama is a leader who embraces diversity and inclusion. As I pointed out in earlier posts, Obama is an intentional connector, a bridge builder rather than a bridge burner. He values dialogue and is respectful, even with his political opponents and the leaders of all nations. He integrates knowledge from diverse domains and the ideas and opinions of diverse people. He is a “both/and” rather than an “either/or” thinker.

Learning about Andrés Tapia’s views reminded me of the “integrative thinker” that Roger Martin wrote about in The Opposable Mind. In the years ahead, there will be greater demand for organizational leaders who are integrative thinkers — open-minded, curious individuals who intentionally and continuously seek the ideas and opinions of diverse people then connect the dots to develop new and better approaches, processes and products. These integrative thinkers will no doubt embrace Diversity 2.0 and organizations will be better for it.

Michael Lee Stallard (www.michaelleestallard.com) speaks and teaches about leadership, employee engagement, productivity and innovation. He is the primary author of the book Fired Up or Burned Out and has spoken at leading organizations including Google, NASA, and GE. This is his second career. In his first, he was chief marketing officer for the private wealth management businesses at Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab.

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