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Published on 31 July 2020

Building a diverse business beyond the slogans

The last few weeks and months have seen extraordinary tensions and uprisings in the name of racial equality and justice. The slogan Black Lives Matter has become a household name and we’ve seen organisations taking a stand to drive up ethnic representation across their teams. This is of course good news, however we have also seen the critique of the BLM movement grow and suggestions of alternative, less virtuous influences at play.

As Christians in business does the bible offer any insight into how we might respond appropriately so as to secure a more fair and equal company and societal structure?

Romans 12 is a scripture full of lessons for the everyday disciple, including those of us called to and gifted in leadership. There are two key messages within Romans 12:3-8 that speak powerfully into Christ centred leadership at a time such as this.

We are one amongst many. The passage starts by calling us to “not think too highly of ourselves”. This seems like an odd thing to say within the context of addressing gifting. However the passage calls us to recognize ourselves within the content of others and their gifts. Paul, the author of this passage makes the point that each of us operate as a single part of a communal whole. Our gifting; including our gift and call to leadership, is no more important than any other gift or role and depends upon the gifts of others so that collectively we thrive.

Leadership requires humility and an ability to ‘see’ the others who equally contribute to the thriving of the whole.

Embrace diversity. We clearly see an emphasis on embracing unity within the diversity of gifting’s and roles. Leadership often places us in the position of developing teams and shaping organization structure, this passage calls us to think deeply and value the rich diversity of others. You may have come across of even used the Homogenous Unit Principle (HUP) in stimulating the growth of networks and groups. The HUP is based upon the notion that people gravitate towards likeminded people. In marketing and product growth terms we might say that to deliver growth we ought to identify our core proposition and product values and then work towards simulating activity primarily amongst our target audience and those of shared value. This might sound like sense, however when it comes to building teams, thriving organizations and healthy society, this passage in Romans challenges us to deliberately look beyond homogeneity and embrace diversity.

We know that diversity boosts innovation, return on investment, efficiency and growth of organizations. Moving beyond homogeneity is not only a spiritual trait of leadership it makes business sense too.

For you to reflect on:

Christ centred, biblical leadership doesn’t just happen but takes a proactive effort to reflect upon ourselves and others and then embrace the diversity we see. Self awareness, humility and embracing difference is not easy and requires and willingness to engage with and accept the risk of acknowledging views different from our own.

When have you made the deliberate effort to seeks views different from your own? What are the risks to pursuing diversity?
What does humility look like in leadership?