Diversity is a diverse matter

As humans we carry some fundamental needs with us to the workplace. 

When these needs are met, it generates various positive effects for both the individual and the organization. Inclusion is built upon the two needs for social belonging and maintaining a valuable uniqueness.

This is an important distinction, as belonging without uniqueness represents a form of invisibility or assimilation. Genuine inclusion entails being treated as a valuable group member while bringing one's own distinctiveness and personal uniqueness.

We consistently need to simplify the way we interact with other people.

One of the reflexes we possess to navigate effectively is our tendency to label or categorize others. It can be as simple as dividing into "us and them," which demonstrably has consequences in how we relate to others. 

People who belong to my group are often evaluated more positively and with greater variety, while those belonging to the "others" are evaluated more negatively and to a greater extent seen as more similar to each other.


This isn't about whether you're a good or bad person.

These are tendencies that all of us, as social beings, possess, enabling us to process large amounts of impressions. However, along with these tendencies, we also acquire some "biases" in our way of interpreting others. It's our collective responsibility to avoid becoming systematic victims of these simplified interpretive mechanisms and instead contribute to recognizing when they influence our decisions and behaviour.

In many organizations, there's a focus on demographic surface-level diversity, where the most relevant factors often include "women in leadership positions," "employees with diverse cultural backgrounds," and "employees with disabilities."

While this data does reflect demographic diversity to some extent, it doesn't strongly indicate the level of inclusion for these individuals.

The state of affairs regarding more underlying diversity variables is less visible. Clearly, there's a challenge here to realize the breadth of the diversity concept and achieve genuine inclusion.

Without creating a generally inclusive culture that spans across all forms of diversity, it's difficult to envision achieving the diversity ambitions that many hold.

Every organization has legal frameworks that they are obliged to adhere to.

Prohibition against discrimination is one such framework in this context. In a professional work environment, most individuals expect more from their workplace than simply abiding by the legal requirements. The perception of what is seen as fair and honest is a factor worth considering. Research, for instance, shows that perceived fairness from the employer's side influences employees' willingness to put in effort beyond what is initially expected of them.




Julie Dyngeland Hessen

Senior Consultant 

Xact By Rambøll

M +47 950 81 833