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Diversity, Entrepreneurship and Work / @LuzRestrepo

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For some people starting an enterprise is part of an innate talent and desire to create something different. For many it is the only way to move forward.  In today’s word, all of us need to develop entrepreneurial skills, or “intrapreneurial” skills if you work as an employee.

Why do we need entrepreneurial skills?

Entrepreneurs are often seen only in the business context, which can miss the true essence of what they are about.  Entrepreneurs (and Intrapreneurs) focus on innovation, making a difference and thereby creating value.

For some people their goals will be about success, money and power.  However, our purpose in life should not just be to make money or become self-absorbed.  We should all try and contribute to the dynamic of our society – to make it an inclusive and sustainable world. Our planet, our society, is at risk when we think in the short term and only about our individual needs. What we all need to develop are the skills of a social entrepreneur.

By working and interacting with others in a complementary way, by learning together how to move quickly and with flexibility to address unexpected changes; persisting, insisting and opening up even more opportunities; learning from mistakes and successes, this is how you develop your entrepreneurial skills. This is the way to generate sustainable value.

Why does a social entrepreneur need to embrace diversity?

When a social entrepreneur/intrapreneur has access to a diverse group of people of varying ages, different backgrounds and distinct ideologies, this presents a huge resource for them to tap into and work with. To not do this, to not embrace the diversity, would be a huge missed opportunity.

So, please welcome the challenges diversity presents; embrace being alongside different people who think that their truth is THE truth, which may look very different to your truth. This is a great challenge. Why? It questions your status quo, challenges THE truth, your communication skills, your negotiation skills, your ability to have an open mind. 

Now, the next question is: How do we achieve get the most from a diverse work place by using the skills of a social entrepreneur? 

I am still looking for my own answers as to how to make the most of this diverse workplace we have created. Every day I am learning from amazing women from more than 50 different countries (including Australia), learning how to work within an Australian culture without losing our own, with people of different ages, ideologies and backgrounds; working in a diverse environment where not everybody has the same objective.

I ask myself everyday how can we work best within in such a diverse environment? We all need to ask ourselves this question, and we will all find our own answers.  

I would like to share with you three things that I personally have found to be indispensable values: Respect for difference, empathy, by placing ourselves in the position of the other, and opening up to what we feel, and our own vulnerability.

Today, this is not just my own challenge. Today it is the challenge of all of us at SisterWorks.

We are doing great things at our Richmond and South Yarra Homes, and now we are working to replicate these things through the Hello Sister project, which will allow us to take our Labs on the road, and reach more women in more remote areas of our city and state. Today we need to be aware that the only sustainable way to grow is if all of us at SisterWorks become social entrepreneurs/intrapreneurs, working together to change the world. 

I invite you all to join me in these reflections and challenge yourself to be the best social entrepreneur you can be. If you want to learn about Hello Sister project or donate to support it. Please click  here

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