Teaching tolerance

An internal idea at furniture giant Ikea to promote diversity and understanding

Haven’t some of the worlds shortest, simplest, yet most provocative of controversies of late conjured up the feeling that you’re doing something blatantly wrong? There are no two ways about it. No grey, no perhaps, just obvious and erroneous communication. And when disastrous publicity spills over into the uncontrollable – into the hands of customers, viewers, citizens or passersby – well..sometimes it can be too late. Celebrity Big Brother, the Mohammed Cartoons, Ségolène Royal or Hillary Clinton – all media campaigns which have hit the headlines for diverse reasons – and diverse is the very word that figures! ‘Diversity Management’ is about understanding, developing tolerance for and eventually deriving benefit from different aspects of human thinking and behaviour. Typically, diversity refers to uncontrollable differences people have in terms of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and physical ability. However diversity can and should also include religion, work styles, communication habits, thinking patterns, etc. More and more organizations are taking part in what they call ‘Diversity Initiatives’, which looks for strategic ways to manage these issues.