The Power of Difference: Where the Complexities of Diversity and Inclusion Meet Practical Solutions

Author: Simon Fanshawe

Book discussed: 16 May 2023

Review by: Mae Keary

What Simon’s book has achieved is to raise the debate about diversity and inclusivity and make it more understandable.  His aim, to widen prospects by eliminating discrimination so that people can be judged on their talent and contribution rather than sex, race, or gender.

In his book, Simon talks about how to achieve diversity by accepting the behaviours and values of your workforce, and to encourage greater performance in your people.  Inclusion, the more difficult to put into practice, is about difference and not similarity; conflict rather than agreement; and productive disagreement rather than winning the argument.  After much valuable discussion, Simon concludes that inclusion is about accommodation and flexibility and getting along with people of all shades of difference. 

Simon’s thesis on unconscious bias is a gripping read, as he tries to get to the nub of the problem.  He questions whether the biases we all carry around really are unconscious, or do we jump to conclusions based on stereotyping too quickly?  He uses theories and case studies to discuss bias and prejudice, it’s effect on people’s lives, and how it can be transformed in businesses.

In chapter 5, the strength diversity can bring to an organisation is described through collaboration, working in teams, and designing bias out of the selection process; with the final chapter homing in on how to manage difference.  There is a useful summary to end each chapter, which illustrates the Power of Difference and its application in businesses.  This is a well-written and erudite book on a sensitive subject, with a helpful list of references.  It is practical, thought provoking, and has an engaging style that should have wide appeal.   We (CSNet Book Group) were privileged to participate in a fascinating discussion with the author on issues raised in his book, and it is highly recommended.

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