12.15.2015

Why Real Diversity Matters

http://www.bluetuliptraining.co.uk/images/cultural.jpgI have had the pleasure of getting to know a number of professionals who do diversity training for a living.  As I hear from them what they are trying to accomplish in their sessions, it occurs to me just how powerful they can be, not just for diversity issues but for overall personal, organizational, and commercial success.

And why is that?  Well, let me start by differentiating between different levels of diversity.  Simplistically, think of this in three tiers.  First, you can have a group that has different kinds of people in it.  Second, that group can have not only diversity in composition but a relatively fair distribution of how power is distributed within the group.  Third, all in the group are genuinely seeking to understand different opinions and the different perspectives from which those opinions emerge, and at times those different opinions and perspective may change people's own opinions and perspectives.

From this frame of reference, putting in the hard work to be a truly diverse group (i.e. the third level) pays huge personal and professional dividends.  For while we tend to think of diversity in terms of the bringing together of people of different racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, or other categories, truly there are no two people who are alike in their life perspective and therefore in the way they view the world and form opinions.  So unless you plan to live all by yourself in the middle of nowhere, your success and happiness as a human being involves being able to effectively interact with other human beings.  And diversity training helps orient you so you can get outside of your own inherently narrow and selfish perspective and more richly interact with others.  Conversely, you can just stomp around wondering why no one "gets" what is obvious to you, latching on to only those who see things from your perspective, and having their hearty assents further atrophy your ability to , see things from multiple perspectives.

If diversity training is not your thing, you may think of it as unnecessary or as a necessary evil.  I would encourage you to think of it as essential.


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