The subject of diversity and inclusion is an evergreen subject to which many scholars have weighed in. The multi-nationals across the world have adopted this approach for company innovation and profitability and this can be extended to countries such as The Gambia. If one wishes to see the implementation of this, no need to look further than the Biden-Harris administration in the USA.
As the world becomes a global village, all smart companies (small or large) look up to diversity to innovate and stay ahead of the curve in business. A study I have conducted in the shipping industries this year concluded that diversity and inclusion is an essential element which affects excellent team performance, creativity, innovation, work efficiency, productivity, profitability, and diverse viewpoints in general. We need to also be aware that diversity is not only physical attributes such as gender, tribe, creed, nationality, religious, height etc but also cognitive which is arguably the most important in innovation and company improvement. Further on diversity, we need to understand that its both acquired and inherent. Inherent diversity has to do with all the traits that an individual possesses from birth; such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Acquiring diversity on the other hand has to do with the traits an individual obtains from experience (Ann Hewlett, Marshall & Sherbin, 2013).
Now that we have a synopsis of diversity and inclusion, let me submit to us the need of it in The Gambia and how this will help us as a nation going forward.
- Adoption and implementation of workplace diversity and inclusiveness of employees in every organization ought to be explored (Cano, 2020; and Inyang, 2007). In the Gambia, we need to review our employment strategy and hire people based on both inherent and acquired diversity. How are we hiring today? Your guess is as good as mine but is it too late? Not. As I look around, I see lots of professionals in the area of Human Resource management and if given the responsibility, they will hire the right people for the right roles.
- Leadership : Barak (2016) argues that successful management in the recent past is associated with numerous axioms among which the ability to manage the increasing workforce D&I are of great importance. Its an open secret that where there is diversity (inherent and acquired), the leaders needs to manage conflict. Let me state here that conflict is not a bad thing, its how its managed which could make or break a society. In fact, we can argue that conflict is good for the innovation, profitability and smooth running . An organizational resilience with regards to workforce diversity is desirable to impact organizational performance. One needs a strong leader!
- Respect of diversity of opinions. The analogy we can give here is that of a gardener – the best garden is one with various flowers, color and shapes which are well shaped and follow a pattern to make it unique/special. More on the analogy – did you take time to see how a music band works? Imagine if all the instruments are the same? If all were flutes or all were drums, or all were vocalist? The work done by the musicians in managing and discipline involved in the band is like the kind of leadership we need to run a company and by extension a state.
- Diversity of abilities and focus on the core competences of our people – when I look at Gambia, I see a blessed nation but one which is busy on the wrong things in life – Can you imagine a combination of the strengths of the various tribes in The Gambia, the physical attributes of men, the multitasking skills of the women, the local knowledge of those living in The Gambia and the international skills sets of those living abroad, the business ideas of those who went to business schools to the those running businesses without formal education? Imagine all those being led by a charismatic, understanding and appreciative leader with diversity and inclusion mindset with foresight/vision. The vision needs to be well documented and referred to daily as our guide?
I submit to the government of The Gambia or any company leader who wishes to improve innovation, profitability and create a cohesive and adhesive team for better results to consider :-
- Establishment of diversity and inclusion department working in tandem with the human resources department.
- Search honestly for the right talents without focus on gender, tribe, creed etc. In fact, when the shortlisting is being done, I submit to us that such unconscious bias data are removed such as tribe, name, date of birth and focus simply of the capability, experience, experience and what s/he brings to the table.
- Process map all the employees in an organization to ensure the group is as diverse as possible and linked to a performance KPI
- Seek leaders (not managers) to lead such teams. The team is as strong as its weakest link. Not afraid to fail but ready to ‘fail fast’, learn from it and improve.
- Imbed diversity and inclusion in the organizations values and make it a performance indicator and reviewed quarterly.
- Create a mutual trust and acceptance of one another, there is a need to form a more cohesive and adhesive team with the right leadership – sense of belonging.
- Create a thinking organisation/nation to encourage staff to participate in work teams in decision making processes with ideas being rewarded.
- Considerable improvement in the equity of accepting and including all personnel with the capacity to deliver into managerial roles regardless of their social standards (i.e., ethnicity, nationality, gender, etc) as well as cognitive diversity.
- Exposure to employ from a large pool of people to occupy different roles, but extra vital to involve them in all major operations and decision-making processes by tapping their skills and capabilities.
- Make individuals feel a sense of purpose and includes them in designs such as giving opportunities to those abled differently to be part of the decision making body in various strata of society from designing of roads to building of offices to staffing.
Finally, I submit to us that the power of diversity & inclusion when embedded into the missions and core values of an organization (nation) should target at improving its performance. This should reflect innovation and creativity leading to increased profits and in the case of a nation – increase our happiness index and creates a sense of belonging, nationalism, patriotism and sense of purpose. We need to embrace diversity and inclusion to make the right development needs for us to make headways.
Thank you so much for reading.