Sometimes I wonder how much progress we’ve actually made over the last 50 years. In Saudi Arabia, women are still not allowed to drive, along with many other things. Today, a group of Saudi women have taken to the streets in their cars on a day of collective protest against the ban on female drivers. I am sure they will be getting threats of all kinds and if we’re talking about human rights let's start with this. There were about 17,000 people who signed a petition calling for women to be allowed to drive.
Still, many companies do not understand the importance and benefit of normalizing the workplace for LGBT beyond just offering workplace protection. Protection is one thing, but realizing the power of true diversity is another and creating a diverse, inclusive workforce where we can bring people from all backgrounds together produces a dynamic workplace and actually helps with innovation.
Despite how open we think the world is, we’re still living in a very conservative world while technologies are racing us forward and bringing more open-mindedness and thereby widening the gap. Innovation is the core of organization competitiveness and gone are the days when corporations had their workforce that looked the same, trained the same, dressed the same, worked the same, spoke the same language and was predominantly of the same gender (usually male) and lifestyle. No wonder it is hard for them to innovate.
Any homogeneous corporations will not survive the shock that organizations are experiencing. The most basic not-so-secret formula for building an innovation culture is pretty simple - embrace diversity and start to attract, retain and promote a diverse workforce that looks differently, works differently, dress differently, speaks differently and is inclusive of the full spectrum of human sexual orientation and gender identities. Do this before you start hiring consultants and rethinking your innovation process, there is no process that works without true diversity.
In fact, there is a very close correlation between diversity and innovation. Senior executives and employees alike are recognizing that a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas in and outside the workplace. All great companies of the future embrace true diversity, not just a policy to satisfy the public, but truly and deeply believe that diversity is the key for the future and the survival of organizations. When Tim Cook stepped into the role of Apple CEO in Aug 2011, the appointment earned him the unofficial title of “the most powerful gay executive in the world.” That move alone convinced me Apple gets it.
“It is never too late to give up your prejudices” ― Henry David Thoreau. I don't thing we are working hard enough. Perhaps someone should design an app to deal with prejudices.