The 21st Century is upon us and with it a new and growing set of challenges are in front of government leaders, private industry CEOs and NGOs. These challenges range from sustaining and optimizing the profitability of the enterprise, creating safe and productive societies for all to participate, and collaborating with other government leaders to address growing pressures on the earth brought forth due to global warming, war and societal conflict, and the general disregard and respect for one another.
If we are to coexist and create lasting societies in the 21st century, leaders must consider the diversity of the human species across the planet. Understanding, appreciating and building societies that are respectful, inclusive, and collaborative will require that we deepen our understanding of each other going forward. It also means that we must insure that all are at the table in decision-making.
Diversity as a concept means the richness we all bring to the table. This diversity considers our racial, ethnic, gender, style, national origin, sexual orientation and identity, and language, cultural backgrounds among other attributes in helping solve pressing organizational and societal issues.
At its core is the concept of inclusion which focuses on how we make this diversity work for the greater good of society and the communities within which we live. It also means that for organizations to be effective and to optimize their outputs, the engagement, involvement and integration of these diverse points of view is critical.
Diversity as an integral part of corporate strategy has evolved over the past forty years. Much of its early emphasis on compliance oriented and grounded in U.S laws outlawing discrimination in employment. The principle was one of providing every one with an equal opportunity to be hired and to be promoted in the work place.