How many levels do you know?

Levels of diversity

Did you know that when we talk about diversity we often think about culture? Well cultural diversity definitely is one of the layers of diversity, but there is more to it than culture alone.

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Culture is actually the outer layer of the diversity paradigm, therefor it’s very visible. No wonder this is the first think that comes to mind when we talk about diversity. As you can see in the image on the right there are two more layers to diversity: demographic diversity and individual diversity. In this blog I will address the three layers, and also I will sum up well known models that you can use to know more about each one of the layers.

Let’s start with the core: individual diversity. Individual diversity is all about ones personal expectations, knowledge, motives, believes, attitudes, needs and values. Because these are personal, it says something about your unique individual perception of life. Personality tests can help you determine your personality style, your role in a group and your way of activating new levels of values as you grow.

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The middle layer addresses demographic diversity. This level is about ones socioeconomic status, job, sexual orientation, familial status, gender, race, age and also about religion, ethnicity, language, geographic origin. These last four are often confused with cultural diversity. From the perspective of this layer though, we address diversity as a diversity of groups, this is what is ment by “demographic”. This can for example be at work by addressing the organisational culture from various angles.

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The outer layer of diversity is the layer that focuses on diversity from a cultural perspective. Aspects that are related to this layer are for example whether the orientation is long-term or short-term. Whether we talk about collectivistic or individualistic cultures, or if a culture indulges itself or is more restraint. Other dimensions are related to power distance, uncertainty avoidance and the balance between femininity and masculinity.

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