Business Times

Diversity in ‘who you are!’

Diversity is twofold. One is the most commonly associated notion of diversity of people around us. ‘People’ is the central issue in workplace diversity. It is focused on the differences and similarities that people bring to an organization. It is often known to include dimensions which influence the identities and perspectives of people, such as race, gender, age, disabilities, appearance, sexual orientation, profession, education, parental status, geographic location, etc.

The second form of diversity is within us and in this article, I would like to talk about the diverse pool of talents, skills and aptitudes we have and, how with the right mindset and attitude, these could be channelled to achieve our goals.

I was fortunate to have met and worked for a CEO who had a keen intuitive judgment when it came to recruitment. I, being one of the panellists in a management trainee selection procedure, handed him a summarized profile of all the candidates who were to be interviewed for the second time. ‘Are these people all-rounders?’ I still remember the look on his face as he handed it back to me saying, ‘I want a variety of personalities and I don’t just need accountants and people with business management degrees here. Where are the science and art graduates?’

‘But this business is not about science or art. This is purely based on hard-core commerce and people management.’ I responded justifying the panel’s decisions. ‘So, you mean to say that science and arts students can’t learn and be trained in management?’ He asked in return and I was speechless.
It was then that I realized that what was needed was a mix of delicacies on the table, the math and the science, the commerce and the arts and the left and the right brain thinkers as they brainstorm for new ideas and troubleshoot in problem solving.

It is this same CEO who showed me through his recruitment decisions, that a diploma /degree or any knowledge base is only a reasonable point of entry, and that what qualifies an individual is something much more.

Bankers need to know banking, marketers need to sell, manufacturers need to produce and accountants need to balance accounts. But what is it that would define you; what extra flavour can you bring to the cake in the oven? In this competitive market, maybe one is right to think that what organizations need is more than persons fitting in to their respective jobs.

More and more, organizations need persons who can fit into their jobs plus, be more than the persons who merely fulfil their job descriptions. How can a banker who is a dramatist, a marketer who is a sportsmen, a manufacturer who is a poet and an accountant who is a musician, add more value to whatever they do?

Variety and diversity within a person is triggered by the function of both left and right brain. Left brain functions are more to do with logic, parts and specifics, analysis (breaking things apart), and sequential thinking. On the other hand, the right brain functions include emotions, pictures, wholes and relationships between parts, synthesis (putting things together), simultaneous and holistic thinking.
Left brain is more to do with words and numbers and right brain is more to do with pictures, colours and rhythms. So, which side are you predominantly?

Even though we have a tendency to gravitate to one end due to our work in a particular area for a long period of time, we have the capacity to improve and develop what does not come across to us naturally or as a ‘preferred area.’ This has evolutionary reasons for survival.

And for survival, it is obvious that we need both the logical, analytical, sequential, objective specifics, and also the intuitive, random, rhythmic, pictorial specifics, to interpret, understand, differentiate and take action accordingly.

Now, let’s explore why a manager or any practitioner who has developed both sides of the brain can be a league ahead. Management is about using logic but it is also about managing feelings and emotions. As much as it is about details and facts, it is also about imagination and seeing the bigger picture. Equally important is the need for practical strategies and intuitive possibilities.

This is the reason behind the recruitment of ‘all-rounders’ who seem to demonstrate in their CVs a solid educational background along with evidence of extra curricular activities that boasts their cultural activities, creativity or sports.

Personal development is about progressing in all areas and testing or experimenting safely what is unknown. This allows our thinking to expand so we would know more about ourselves. Different parts of the brain are dedicated to different functions and tasks.

Hence, we would never know our talent, skill or liking, if we don’t try. It is about being open to new experiences and stretching our boundaries. The first step is about getting out of the comfort zone-the way we know it. Tap, tap: you would never know what you may find on the other side of your brain.

(The writer is a Business Psychologist and can be reached at

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