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  • January 10, 2021



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The 2017/18 Manchester City team that steamrolled the rest of the league into winning the Premier League title was made up of many nationalities from different parts of the world.

The team pooled together diverse players and professionals from different footballing traditions and was marshaled by Pep Guardiola (with the help of a diverse coaching and backroom staff) who administered a uniquely Catalan way of understanding and coaching football. Add a large helping of Emirati sponsorship and management to this tantalizing melting pot of a team and what you have is a team that played breathtakingly beautiful and innovative football the like of which had never been seen on English pitches. The team won the league by a hundred points; a point-haul no English team had ever managed.

While there are many factors that played a role in the team’s achievements in that season, none of the achievements would even have been remotely possible were it not for the cultural diversity of the team.

This team was a far cry from the provincial Manchester City team of the 1990s and early 00’s made up of majorly British players and coaching staff; a mediocre team which sometimes languished and fought for places at the bottom half of the table.

Diversity – the co-existence of culturally, ethnically or racially different persons in the same place – is not only beneficial, it is also beautiful. It is a beautiful mosaic when people from different parts of the world or from different parts of a multi-ethnic or multi-racial country or region co-exist, study or work in the same place. It makes for a more enriching, vibrant and interesting environment than a culturally or ethnically homogenous place.

The benefit of diversity is obvious; by pooling together people from different cultures, organisations, countries and institutions take advantage of the unique skills, characteristics and perspectives imbued in these people by their respective cultures. Countries like the United States, through a historically open immigration policy, have benefited from the diverse skills, culture and unique experiences of immigrants. This has made the United States arguably the most vibrant and innovative country in the history of the world. These days, it has become best practice for human resources departments in  organisations and universities in the developed countries of the world to have a strong diversity and inclusion policy.

Workplaces that embraces cultural diversity also have access to a wider talent pool both because potential diverse employees with useful talents will desire to work in a workplace where they can see people from their culture and because a workplace that widens its net to include hires from different cultures and ethnicities will find the best talents. As a result, a wider and diverse talent pool guarantee innovation; a heterogenous group of employees will contribute unique perspectives that can lead to creative problem-solving and breakthroughs in thought.

The adoption of a strong diversity and inclusion policy in Nigerian workplaces and educational institutions can contribute to national unity and greater tolerance and understanding among Nigerians of various ethnic groups. The reason many Nigerians still harbour ethnic stereotypes and suspicions and cannot tolerate people from other ethnic groups is because most Nigerians have not had the opportunity to work, study or live with people from other ethnic groups. Workplaces that engage Nigerians from different ethnic groups towards the pursuit of the organisation’s common goal have the potential to reduce ethnic rivalry and improve multi-ethnic unity and co-operation among Nigerians.

Individuals can also embrace diversity. Actively seeking and embracing diversity in your social and professional network can lead to a fuller, richer and more productive life. Just as organisations, countries and educational institutions benefit from the diverse perspectives, skills and talent of a multicultural environment so also does an individual benefit from his/her diverse social and professional contacts.

Diversity is not without its challenges. It takes a lot of work, training and personal convictions for people to get rid of their long-held stereotypes and their personal biases against members from other ethnic groups. People will also need to be taught to respect and tolerate the cultural quirks of other people. In addition, people may need to be taught to jettison certain entrenched modes of behaviour sanctioned by their own culture but that will inevitably cause clashes with other cultures. Despite all these challenges however, diversity still remains a key ingredient in building a winning team, living a fuller life and creating a more beautiful world.

‘Gbenga Samuel is trying to be a jack of all knowledge and master of Law. He has deep and highly varied interests from the entertainment industry to geo-politics. He is an associate at the O.V Advisory a full-service law firm based in Lagos State. He can be reached via twitter @gbengasamuel01 and gbengasamuel01@gmail.com.

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