Germany’s Chancellor recently commented that multiculturalism had failed [in Germany]. However inappropriate or appropriate we might see this comment, it’s important to realize a very important underpinning of that statement: that societies are made up of people who, theoretically, share something in common and have a desire to live together, work together, and be together. Were it not for these shared desires, societies would fraction off into other small groups (as has happened throughout history with any political or cultural separation). We don’t necessarily allow strangers into our family just because they like our home better than their home, just like we don’t allow every interested candidate to become part of our organization just because they want to do what we do. There must be something that binds us, despite any differences, and that makes us a stronger organization.
Diversity and inclusion are invaluable to making any organization successful…but there’s another piece that’s also necessary – integration. When an organization is made up of different groups, the potential for conflict is magnified, as those groups will not always share similar ideas or principles. Organizations (and any group, really) are held together by the bonds of a common approach, common desires, and a common set of values. While every individual in that group may have his or her own set of values above and beyond those of the group they belong to, if they never integrate into the group, the group can never function as a unified whole.
An organization that is made up of people without some level of commonality is bound to fail, as conflict arises, motivations are lost, and the desire to be and work together falters. Again, whether we consider it appropriate or inappropriate, many immigrants to the US took innumerable steps to become part of American society (changing their surnames, learning English, etc.) to demonstrate their desire to adapt and succeed in a foreign place. If people assume that just because we share a common space (such as a city or an office) that we will get along, that diversity will add value, and that things will work wonderfully, then they are forgetting the natural human desire to bond with those who share something we do. Of course, integration requires positive intent from both the new members and the old members of the organizations or group. Without a sincere interest and authentic desire to integrate, only the differences will remain…and many will claim that diversity and inclusion have failed.