I almost refrained from putting this section in here — not because I don’t believe in it, but because it’s seen as the trendy thing to say, whether or not you actually believe it, though feel pressured to affirm it. However, after reflecting on it I realized truth is still truth, not matter if it’s a cliché or not: I shouldn’t throw something out simply because it is currently hip, cool, or “the thing” to be talking about.
So diversity. We are inundated with hundreds of articles, research journals, and periodicals about how and why diversity matters. It helps our culture, teaches us new paradigms, we see different perspectives, and we develop deeper empathy. These are all true. One thing it teaches me is humility, and that’s one reason why we can be afraid of diversity.
I’m not necessarily talking about hiring women, Blacks, Asians, gays, or other categorical groups of people. I’m a tall white guy (which, coincidentally, means I can’t dance either). But diversity can also mean hiring another white guy that sees the world differently — and disagrees with me. Diversity could mean a team of fantastically amazing women. Sure, that may not look like “diversity” as we measure it today, though what if they each see the world differently? What if an executive team made up of 100% women enabled more openness, discussion, and honest debate?
If the goal of diversity is to embrace differences, then we should think twice of a total and complete alignment of ideals, worldviews, or perspectives. Looking at gender, sexual orientation, and race is an easy way to quantify, but it doesn’t necessarily create true diversity. Secondly, if you’re beholden to certain goals or requirements to hire 50/50 men and women, or a split of different races this might actually be a detractor.
That can be a great, honorable goal, it can serve the purpose we want, and it may even be the absolute, 100% best method! But I hope that doesn’t override hiring or other protocols. The last hires I made were all women, and, for me, I’m so thankful I didn’t try to “even it out”. They are truly amazing individuals, each with their different perspectives and ways to challenge me in my thinking. My insights and perspective need to be challenged and they are the people to do just that.
Let’s be open to change. We don’t know what’s just around the bend and we know that we don’t have all the answers. Though…sometimes other people do. And those answers may come from the people we least expect. Sometimes they think like us, but often they don’t.