Sustaining Healthy Diversity
What is healthy diversity?
Any group or community contains diversity. Some diversity is clearly visible — much of it is complex, subtle, and hard to see. Difference can be a source of strength, flexibility, learning, insight, and growth. It can also make it hard to understand and easy to misunderstand, people who are different from yourself.
Human beings tend to try and be with groups that give them a sense of community — joining with other people are like themselves. This gives us a home in the human family, and comrades at work.
People can also get so deeply entrenched in their group that they isolate themselves from other groups, build barriers and walls, and break off communication. If this happens within a church or school or business, the larger goals of the organization suffer as much as the people within the group as they defend and attack each other.
In communities and nations, those divisions lead to shattered neighborhoods, dysfunctional agendas, missed opportunities, loss of community, bitter divisions, race and religious and ethnic hatred, war, and genocide.
Healthy diversity exists when a group is able to create internal cohesion and a sense of belonging, while allowing the natural dynamics of group shifting to occur in ways that respect and allow those shifts.
How is healthy diversity fostered?
Three steps are key to creating a group that is really capable of healthy diversity.
•First of all, in order to be healthy, the group needs to clarify their core goals and vision such that everyone involved is really committed to the same thing. Another way of saying this is that the thing holding the group together needs to be clear, and something that we all really want.
•Secondly, if the group has been in existence for some time, and his having trouble, the group needs to understand how deeply divided they really are. Some kind of assessment is necessary to see how many agendas there are, what those factions really need, and what can and does unite the group.
•Third, the people in the group need to rebuild communication and begin to understand each other as real, complex people (not just annoying ‘others’). This step is the most important way to build real community, in a way that supports healthy diversity.
We can work with your group to provide multiple services supporting these needs including:
Various style and group dynamic trainings
Organizational systems design