In Star Trek when the Enterprise first encounters the Borg they
announce themselves with the now infamous phrase “ We are the Borg,
resistance is futile , you will be assimilated.” Is
your organisation like the Borg seeking out people from different
cultures and backgrounds to add their knowledge and skills to benefit
the company but expecting them to give up their individuality and
culture in order to fit in?
A Borg organisation wants the advantages that come with diversity but
non of the challenges. A Borg organisation is technologically
advanced, quick to adapt, keen to take on board new knowledge and
skills. The empathise is on team work and communication, roles are
clearly defined and rigidly adhered to. The leadership and management
style allow for no dissent, their is no scope for creativity, no such
thing as being different, to be accepted you must be like everyone
else (whilst at work).
Organisation have a tendency to be like the Borg and seek to
assimilate rather than integrate people into the workforce. Rather
than celebrate diversity they flatten it out.
People who are different are said to be an asset but then forced to
down play that difference.
An organisation that seeks to integrate people who are different
does not require them to change or be something they are not in order
be accepted. The leadership and management style reflects a
willingness to debate, to accept the expression of legitimate concerns
without seeing this as disloyalty, to encourage creativity, to
acknowledge the contributions and insight that diversity offers and
manage those differences rather than ignore them or suppressing them.
To be promoted you do not have to be one of the “boys” . Your
religion, gender ,sexuality, or ethnicity is not seen as a handicap to
be played down . As in your “Muslimness makes others uncomfortable.”
And is the reason you are overlooked for promotion.
Equality and Diversity risk becoming empty rhetoric if an
organisation does not also promote integration over assimilation.
Blair Mcpherson former Director and author of An Elephant in the Room
an equality and diversity manual published by Russell House. www.blairmcpherson.co.uk