Sterile Diversity: The Dance of the Leftovers


It must be said that the title that heads this writing seems to be contradictory, which is known as an oxymoron. Therefore the conclusion must be presented early: we like the diversitywe promote it and put colors on it, but when we enter the path of inclusionour patterns and biases generate exclusion and we get to the point of ignoring those who have been “included”.

The inclusion and equity processes have marked the last decades, however, they have not permeated in the right way. It is said that inclusion is not only being invited to the party, it also implies being invited to dance and even having the possibility of choosing the son.

The latter rarely happens. We are dominated by mirror biasa peculiarity of the human being in society that leads him to connect more easily with those who resemble him or with those who have things in common.

Thus, by way of example, workers in a company who belong to a similar social circle, who graduated from the same universities or who lived their early years in a similar way have the vocation to unite and create closed groups. If in this same organization there is a person of a different origin, social class if you will, the person naturally tends to be excluded, ignored and even labeled, sometimes in a pejorative way.

Inclusion breaks our conception of egalitarian community. It clearly marks the differences and brings this bias – often conscious – of not wanting to mix. This situation breaks with the very principle and purpose of inclusion and equity.

Today we insistently speak of being in a historical moment where four or five generations coexist in the same workplace. This shows that we have broken the first barrier to inclusion, which is the access barrierbut she is just the front door.

In the world of legacy companies, those that have been in business for more than a century, sometimes leading a succession of grandparents, parents and children, divergent thinkingthe different point of view, is punished and even found dissociated from the culture.

We do not want to listen to or consider what is different simply because it is easier to follow, and mainly because that difference is in the mouth of a single voice, which dares, but fails. Many women who are members of Boards of Directors express the difficulty involved in being the only woman, the different one. In this regard, it has been shown that more women are required for diversity to really work.”

In the new companies that have emerged successfully in recent years, the opposite phenomenon occurs: you don’t want someone who thinks in a traditional way, a kind of reverse discrimination.

The Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has one of the most used TED Talks about this, entitled The danger of the unique story. In it, the novelist points out the danger of the absence of empathy, but, in particular, of the stereotypes about the exclusion.

We are in a month where the struggle of the LGBTQI+ population in search of their rights, equal treatment and equal opportunities. The brands dress in colors and one day of the month the main cities witness a hubbub of multicolored flags and authentic dances; expressions of freedom.

Unfortunately, it tends to be a time – certainly valuable – but not practiced all year round. We proceed to business inclusion, but we maintain the barriers of well-being by not promoting an emotionally safe space. We believe that “everyone fits” but there are huge barriers to managerial access to people with a different sexual preference, with disabilities or from different social origins, growth barriers that leave inclusion in the lower parts of the pyramid.

Undoubtedly, there are exceptions and very valuable ones, curiously, most of them are accompanied by stories that explain how a stellar serendipity occurred so that things happened and the person got to where they are, narratives that do not always refer to the talent of the individual”.

Just take a look at the 100 or 200 or 300 most important companies in Latin America. Its Boards of Directors are overwhelmingly made up of straight white men who studied at the same universities. Paradoxical, by the way, when these same companies have as their market focus the entire population – made up of a majority of women and a majority of the poor. Can sensible decisions be made that really consider the root needs of these markets?

It is not, to be clear, reverse discrimination. It is rather a call for us to understand the immense difficulties that inclusion has and the skills that this implies developing for the sustainability of the diverse company.

Diversity –starting with its semantics– breaks uniformity, which is something with which we are created. It implies giving places, giving spaces, giving voice to those who may think differently, or may think the same from another point of view. The diversity it brings conflicts, frictions, judgments from one side and the other. this is where the inclution has fallen short. Competences as simple as listening or empathy, the same situational leadership of yore, become preponderant and important.

If as a result of inclusion we do not take into account that we must overcome these difficulties, we will be making a more serious mistake: bringing these “included” to be excluded or ignored and let them only count towards the number.

We have failed in that second stage, we have been left to create the dance. Maybe when it comes to Pride Month or pride, we painted rainbows for a month or a day to give space to the sounds and dances. But just for that day, we don’t want songs or dances in September or February.

We cry out for innovative, avant-garde or disruptive positions, but at the same time we limit them so that they do not make so much noise. And the worst thing is that we label them: “the old man”, “the brunette”, “the diverse one”, “the dressed one”, “the neurotic one”, “the crippled one”. We can blush with horror at the frankness of these words, but it is highly probable that we would have done it or at least tolerated it as passive observers.

It is time to really think about inclusion and how to overcome its difficulties, costs and frustrations. This implies not only invite to the dancebut to be willing to have to listen to (and dance to) a song that we don’t like.



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