How My Diversity Made Me A Better Leader
As a woman, I am aware of the times my voice has been diminished because of my gender. I am aware of the times I have had to fight to be heard because I am a woman in leadership, and I am aware of the times my voice has not mattered because I am Black.
Yet I understand that we all have advantages, and disadvantages because of some aspect of our identities. My stories of pain do not preclude me from having privilege. My diversity has also brought me advantages along the way.
Over the years, I have come to understand that diversity cannot be defined by endless slides of multicultural hands in the air holding a globe or by people who look and talk differently.
Diversity comes in many forms, and it is all about recognizing, embracing and celebrating each other’s difference.
My personal experiences have taught me that acknowledging diversity, and setting accountability measures in the hope of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace does not automatically cultivate sustainable diversity.These efforts usually fail because they lack a link, a link that needs a deeper level of reflection, courage, and a lot of uncomfortable conversations.
According to Independentsector.org, equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems and their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.
- Equity requires us to challenge our truth and beliefs, even though we are inclined to our safe zones.
- Equity dares us to do more than just the bare minimum in conformity with the status quo.
- Equity requires us to be “comfortable being uncomfortable.” – Peter McWilliams and as Kwame Christian says, "the best things in life are on the other side of difficult conversations.”
I was born and raised in Kenya, a beautiful country in East Africa that is a blend of rich culture, and traditions and is home to an array of wildlife. I have lived in Germany for over a decade.
Living in both cultures and taking the best of both worlds has impacted my view on diversity. My life and story have taught me that when faced with diversity, we need to take necessary steps every day to:
- Make ourselves vulnerable with one another – Our stories humanize us.
- Be open and receptive to other people's truths – However difficult that might be.
- Learn to perceive the world through other people's lenses.
- Work every day towards finding a balance between compassion and accountability.
My personal and professional experiences have taught me how to empower people, navigate a multicultural setting, and thrive in leading multicultural teams. Diversity is about creating an environment and culture where people feel empowered in their unique selves, empowered enough to bring their authentic identities to work.
Diversity is inviting everyone to the table, while inclusion ensures that everyone has a seat at that table. Equity is ensuring that the buffet is diverse enough to cater to everyone’s needs.
Diversity is worth its weight in gold when and if managed well.
Natalie Schrogl - Author
Founder & Managing Director, The Interface Leadership
Natalie Schrogl is a sought after leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and creator of "The ARMOUR of Leadership", a template for leadership transformation and a solid guide to crafting a sustainable response to the changing leadership landscape.