The beauty and richness of difference

By Carl Clarke, Vice President of Human Resources, Thomson Reuters

Wherever a group of people get together, whether professionally or privately, there will inevitably be outsiders and insiders. And at certain times during the gathering, depending on the conversations or context, the outsiders become insiders and the insiders become outsiders. The in-out movement of individuals within the group is often a result of age, income, ethnicity, education, or simply by how they have chosen to live their lives.

Being male, I often find myself as one of these outsiders. While you may think that this statistic puts me firmly in 50% or so of the population, I will quickly add that I work in Human Resources - a profession that is very much dominated by the opposite sex. As an Irishman working in London, I am often the outsider, from an ethnicity point of view. But if the topic turns to sport, I quickly become an insider.  You get the picture! 

All too often we instinctively surround ourselves with people we can relate to, people like us. The dynamic we end up in can be drab and predictable and quite possibly dysfunctional when you have goals or objectives to meet. Groupthink stems from the idea that loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions. What we sometimes end up with is a loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. Quite often the best encounters happen outside our comfort zone, when we embrace the differences of people who are not like us.

It is these differences which make for a valuable and rich dynamic between individuals. All too often its power is underappreciated. Whether in the workplace or in society, we can often let these differences set us apart. Not fully interacting with others when we work and play can sometimes stop us learning and innovating - from seeing the world through the eyes of others and applying what we learn in ways that stretch and develop us. 

Diversity and inclusion shape our culture at Thomson Reuters. It is part of who we are and how we do business every day. As we’ve heard from employees, recruiters and customers, one thing has been very clear: we’re a better place when we have a rich variety of perspectives, talents, backgrounds, lifestyles and experiences in our workplace, and within the broader community from which we recruit.

I personally see beauty and endless opportunity in our differences and I look forward to supporting the Social Integration Commission as it explores ways to celebrate this beauty and to seize the opportunities created by our uniqueness.

Carl is a member of the Commission's Employers Working Group

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