Delicacies of Diversity

The future of work would indeed involve "liquid talent" comprising of a mix of resources—permanent, contractual, gig workers, and non-humans such as robots.

 

When ‘Parasite’ created history by being the first non-English film to win an Oscar in the main category, the world started looking up at the East again; when Mohammad Younus won the Nobel, the world began to talk about microfinancing; when Kahneman bagged the Nobel, behavioural economics became trendy; when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature, the definition of literature was set for reinterpretation.

 

However, there exist schools of thought that fall on either side when novel concepts, practices, and types of people are hailed. In human parlance, scholars and practitioners call it ‘diversity’; and refer to the presence of people with different age-groups, creed, ethnicity, religions, backgrounds, and abilities. The diversity discourse revolves around the richness that distinct workgroups bring to the table.

 

It was a pleasure to witness a live debate on diversity during a recent conference of top-notch HR professionals. The beauty was not simply that the speakers exhibited diversity in age and gender; but also that they were starkly widespread in their domain of thoughts. There was a young girl who cited that diversity has been in our heritage and that the modern notion of diversity was only old wine in a new bottle! She exemplified that the Sikh Gurus had requested a Muslim named Mian Mir to lay the foundation of the Golden Temple. An opponent vehemently opposed her logic and retorted, “So what?” The house laughed, and an eerie silence prevailed momentarily on the stage. Another speaker jumped in referring to how Lord Rama went beyond the available resources (read: talent) and sought services of another talent pool—the Vaanar Sena—vastly different from his existing resources! Yet another opponent steered the conversation back to the topic and defended that a diverse workforce would disrupt the current business practices.

 

I missed out a moment from the debate to ponder that the future of work would indeed involve “liquid talent” comprising of a mix of resources—permanent, contractual, gig workers, and non-humans such as robots. If such pools have existed in the past and contributed to our history and legends, why would they be disruptive in the future? Why is diversity sometimes viewed as unsettling? Is it that over the ages, our adaptive capabilities have reduced?

 

World’s top organisations are increasingly promoting diversity and inclusion as pillars of their culture—Microsoft, Google, and IBM, to name a few. Diversity adds little value without inclusion. While affirmative action brings a diverse composition of people to work, the true potential of the talent can be harnessed and brought to life only when each difference is treasured. Organisations, in many ways, are a microcosm of society which host multiple kinds of people and species (such as robots, chatbots). Hence, assimilation and amalgamation of a large variety is essential, yet equally challenging, for the harmonious growth of the organisation.

 

However, natural human biases often make deep-rooted prejudices and therefore, instill non-acceptance. Research suggests different methods to overcome such biases and enhance sportsmanship towards welcoming diversity rather than considering it a disruption. Inclusion can prevail only when these parasite-like biases perish. But how?

 

As I kept musing, my thoughts were in search of a paradise which would have room for everyone to groom; where a donkey and a nightingale could co-exist without anxiety, assessment and opposition; where all diversities would assimilate to strike a chord.

 

 

(Co-existence of both fragrance and colours add beauty to a place; what am I just being me, what are you just being you?)”

 

My search continued as I stole a few hours in the evening to spend with a friend, who took me out to a place for a culinary sojourn. Starting with a creamy lassi, followed by a plate of sizzling chhole bhature and then the fresh, crispy jalebis were perhaps, only an introduction. Thereafter, I succumbed to my friend’s suggestion of having the delicacy of the town, a stuffed kulcha. I ate it all only to find a specially prepared faluda kulfi in front of us—ready to be consumed lest it melted away! Eating a variety of dishes in a short span of a few hours needs appetite as well as energy. As we moved ahead, he pointed at a patisserie on the way and offered the next specialty. I literally, held his hands and pulled him back into the car.

 

“What enables you to digest so many different things so quickly and that too, with a lasting smile on your face?” I curiously inquired. He replied promptly, “Simple—a rich variety is always inimitable! Once you realise this, you will not only develop the ability to absorb but also create a unique place for yourself in the society. The world knows us for our progressive and yet, liberal culture, which I believe is also rooted in our gastronomic passion!” “Aah!” I exclaimed. Perhaps, my search had been rightfully answered. I had got the real taste of delicacies!

 

Amit Gupta is a senior HR Executive with Indian Oil Corporation Limited and has vast experience in Sales and Human Resource Development. He is a passionate writer, storyteller, and public speaker. He pens real-life stories regularly under the title Myriad Musings for The Times of India—https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/myriadmusings . He also contributes to leading HR magazines. Amit can be contacted on [email protected]

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