Improve Your Diversity Intelligence


Eliminate Your Blind Spots

By Paul Pelletier, LL.B, PMP

Vancouver, BC, Canada


In our highly diverse workplaces, diversity intelligence is critical to success. Project management leaders who leverage diversity to develop, motivate and empower people to achieve extraordinary results aren’t acting randomly. By aligning diversity intelligence (DI) with leadership strategies and communication practices to ensure a truly collaborative, inclusive and engaging work environment, we can inspire our high performance teams and improve our project success. DI, like other skills, is a competency that requires learning and constant improvement – as the dynamics of our diverse workplaces change, so must we.

One of the most effective ways to improve diversity intelligence is by understanding and overcoming our diversity “blind spots.” This requires both self-awareness and a deeper appreciation that diversity goes well beyond the obvious surface characteristics of people.

A Review – What is Diversity Intelligence?

DI is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. The concept of diversity intelligence encompasses acceptance and respect. It is the exploration of our differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.

By integrating workers from culturally diverse backgrounds into their workforce organizations become much stronger and their project success rate improves. Diversity intelligent leaders ensure that diversity is an integral part of the business plan, essential to successful projects, programs, products and increased sales. This is especially true in today’s global marketplace, as organizations interact with different cultures and clients.

The Diversity Iceberg

We tend (often without even knowing it) to regard diversity through the lens of the most obvious physical and superficial traits of those around us. For example, we categorize people by virtue of their age, gender, and race. This makes sense – after all, age, race and gender are traits you can see in the flesh. But these and other physical attributes like skin colour are only a small part of the diversity picture. There are many other characteristics that merit consideration. Behavioral psychologists and social scientists use “the Diversity Iceberg” to demonstrate this problem, where visible traits like race, gender and other physical attributes sit at the top above the waterline, while a larger portion of non-visible characteristics lurk below.


The Diversity Iceberg Illustration

The Diversity Iceberg is a marvellous tool to assist in improving our diversity intelligence. The key point of the iceberg is that the core of our identity is made up of the dimensions that exist below the surface. These buried qualities are critical to our individuality and provide the actual essence of diversity.


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About the Author

Paul Pelletier

Vancouver, BC, Canada



Paul Pelletier
, LL.B., PMP, is a workplace respect consultant, corporate lawyer, project manager and executive. He works with organizations to prevent, manage and eliminate workplace bullying. His book “Workplace Bullying – It’s just Bad for Business” highlights how bullying is lethal to project management and business success. He also serves as a member of the PMI Ethics Member Advisory Group. He has published articles, presented webinars, workshops and been a presenter at many PMI events, including Global Congresses, Leadership Institute Meetings and Chapter events. Paul Pelletier can be reached at http://www.paulpelletierconsulting.com/ or [email protected]

To view other works by Paul Pelletier, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/paul-pelletier/