Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of attending a Holiday Tea, sponsored by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI.  The event was well attended by alumni and donors.  A handful of faculty members and current students, like myself, were also invited.

I was able to meet SPEA alumni, Vivi Lamb, a recruiter for Simon Property Group.  After a brief conversation introducing ourselves and our work, we began to discuss issues of diversity.  I was pleased to hear that Vivi contributed to Simon Property Group’s success in diversity initiatives, ultimately winning an award from the Mayor’s Office of Indianapolis.

I was impressed by a story of how one decision, prioritizing diversity, increased the effectiveness and efficiency of an entire department at the company.  I would like to share it with you now:

An individual, who was hearing impaired, was hired by Simon Property Group.  He communicated via reading lips, instant messaging, and written notes.  The man requested two computer screens – the first for the content of his work and the second for instant messaging with his boss and co-workers.  The company provided the two screens, and soon afterwards, the man was performing his work tasks at a higher quantity and higher quality than all of his peers.  Interested in this improvement, the company assessed the situation and realized that the benefits of increased efficiency and effectiveness far exceeded the cost of a second computer screen – potentially for ALL employees.  Now, every person in the work team has two computer screens, and the department consistently performs at higher levels of quality and quantity (than previously with only one computer screen per employee).

There are several reasons why I love this story of diversity.

  1. Diversity is more than just skin color.  It involves a variety of characteristics, including different abilities.
  2. The company was committed to creating success by providing reasonable accomodations (which is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act).
  3. The individual’s perspective is respected by the company – ultimately increasing the success of an entire department.

What a great example of how an organization can embrace diversity!  Do you know of another success story of how diversity practices have been effectively implemented?  Please leave a comment with your story.

To learn more about this bottom-line benefit of diversity, I plan to read a book recently released, None of Us is As Good As All of Us:  How McDonald’s Prospers by Embracing Inclusion and Diversity.  You may want to take a look, too!

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