Benefits of Diversity

Benefits of Diversity

When I was eighteen months old I moved to live in a new country. Belgium. Not long later I was living in Germany. Back to Canada when I was five. My Dad bought a VW van and we camped all over Europe during those 4 years.

Being exposed to different cultures and different languages was formative and left me with a love for other cultures.

There is plenty of research indicating the multiple benefits of diversity in the workplace. Here is a good one highlighting some studies and the top benefits:

We can be exposed to diversity though and not reap the benefits.

Benefiting from diversity requires a willingness to wrestle with ideas and be open to new ideas, new thoughts, new processes etc.

Isn’t that true of most growth? We need to see that our thinking, emotions and behaviors can benefit from some changes.

In a few days I head to Mexico. We won’t be staying at an isolated resort but at my cousin’s condo. It is a great opportunity for me to benefit from diversity. So, how can I prepare? How can you make the most of the diversity in your life? How can you invite more diversity?

What beauty do I see that is different from beauty I see at home? (Nature, art, colors, food, faces, etc.)

I value people taking time for each other and offering kindness. How do I see that expressed differently?

Do I notice any different ways of problem solving?

When I have a frustrating experience - what assumptions am I making that are contributing?

How much communicating am I doing non-verbally and what messages am I sending?

What is inspiring me and bringing me joy? (Being somewhere different allows for different experiences than the normal ‘grind’ - what do I need to incorporate more in to everyday life?

What makes us closed off to other cultures? We have been affirmed for doing things a certain way in our own culture and taught those ways since we were born. Instead of seeing those things as culturally appropriate we make the leap to think of them as ‘the right way’.

It is respectful here in the South for me to be referred to as “Ma’am”. Where I grew up that had a bit of an alternative slant, it would be used mainly to refer to a significantly older woman and isn’t a compliment to someone younger. I had to learn to receive it as intended where I live now. It was hard at first. Now I find it endearing. (Which disappoints my boys who loved to try to get a reaction out of me with it.)

Such a small example. Embracing another way of showing up in the world, be that ethnic diversity or any of the million other ways that we are different from each other requires humility. It requires stepping back to look at intent and the heart behind actions, not just the actions.

Let’s look for beauty in each other, not just this Valentine’s Day week but as a regular practice!

Adiós amigos! Hasta la proxima vez! (Until next time.)


Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Capacity Building Coaching, holding her Professional Certified Coach designation with the International Coach Federation.

Marilyn provides professional coaching for executive and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training and soft-skills development.

Marilyn is author of everyday resiliency workbook “How Absorbent Are Your Shocks?”, available on Amazon. Subscribe to “Marilyn’s Musings” twice monthly blogposts for more leadership and professional development content.

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