Diversity is a hot topic right now. There are countless media reports suggesting that certain organisations, be it the government or big business, are underrepresented compared to the rest of the population. Sadly we are still talking about gender inequality, let alone addressing the gap in race, age or sexuality. Instead we implement token diversity policies and catastrophize the impact of the few refugees we receive in Australia.
I was snapped by the #createwelcome initiative (check it out www.createwelcome.com) during the week. The three letters I constructed were the result of a question I’ve been asking myself ….. how can we actively design for diversity that can enrich us?
Two initiatives I’ve recently come across start to address this question:
- The Portland Mercado http://www.portlandmercado.org is a market with a number of permanent food trucks in the suburbs of Portland Oregon which I visited late last year. It is a not for profit economic development initiative which attempts to address the wealth divide in the city by empowering the latino population through entertainment, art and food. It adopts an incubator model to allow unlikely entrepreneurs to start and grow their business overtime offering retail space and business coaching. It has been a huge success creating 76 jobs and becoming a popular fixture in the city for grocery shopping and dining.
- Work & Welcome is an initiative by MDA in Brisbane which seeks to find better ways for refugees to truly integrate into the community. One aspect of the program is a partnership with business to create 500 job placements for refugees https://mdaltd.org.au/ww-for-business-supporters/ . It is calling for Brisbane businesses to host work placements for newly settled refugees. It has already created 240 jobs so far.
Both these initiatives are examples of designing for and embracing diversity in order to enrich a city or business.
The specific benefits for a business with a diverse workforce include incorporating different perspectives, increased creativity, challenging established assumptions, and greater representation of your customer base leading to better experiences and new opportunities.
Lets embrace diversity through the use of creative problem solving.