Friday, July 1, 2011

Diversity is You

I’ve been having more and more conversations about diversity lately.  Many of the people I speak to jump to the conclusion that I’m somehow discussing employment practices.  Not true…selection is such a small part of diversity.  I have had somewhat of an epiphany on the topic recently (thanks in large part to Joe Gerstandt.)  As I look around my world, my coworkers, friends, family members, and neighbors, I’ve realized that each of us is different.  Here’s where Joe comes in…diversity is difference.

Damn, that’s good.  Simple and good.

That Means You…and Me
Diversity isn’t only about people, but that is where it starts.  Policies and behaviors and corporate cultures don’t happen without people.  So I’m going to focus my energy in two very specific places at first:  1. Me.  2. Those people around me.

Quint Studer says that when he has an issue with anyone he first looks in the mirror to understand his role in the situation.  I think his approach can work in many settings, including how we view diversity.  If we don’t appreciate our own impact in every encounter with other people, then we are going to miss countless opportunities to embrace difference and make ourselves, and our organizations stronger.

You Are Already Making A Difference
When you walk down the hall and greet an employee you’ve never met before, you are making an impact.  When you greet a customer with a smile and a handshake you are making an impression.  When you intentionally reach out to someone who is struggling you are demonstrating what you are all about.  You are already embracing diversity through your leadership style.  It’s time to recognize it for what it is, and make it grow.

How About You
Have you ever felt intimidated by the term diversity?  When it’s brought up in meetings is it a buzz kill?  Or, is it an opportunity for you to clarify that diversity is simply difference, which means every person in that meeting is already a part of the diversity effort underway in your organization.  Sounds a lot less threatening that way, doesn’t it?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of bc


  1. I've not been intimidated by the term, I think there's been a lot of confusion and misrepresentation of the term in the media. And because that's where Joe Public (not Gerstandt who rocks) mostly learns about these high-powered topics, they subsequently are left with thoughts at different ends of the spectrum.

    I agree with you though. Diversity is not restricted to employment law in any way. It is about daily life and about daily interactions. If I'm black/Asian/gay makes a difference to some people. My daily interactions though make a difference to everyone.

    Performance management at its root is about understanding the diversity of your teams, how they operate and how they are different. Objectives/feedback/coaching all then fall in line with that.

  2. Sukh - Thanks so much for your comments. I couldn't agree more. Understanding and appreciating differences allows us all to not only grow, but I believe be more successful as well.

  3. I feel the term is over used and not even actions come with it. People say they are diverse but really? Look at your friends, if they all look like you, meaning all men or all women, all black all white, all asian, all middle eastern, hispanic, all your age; then is that diverse. Everyone has different perspectives and experiences and you should taste the rainbow, you'll be better for it.

  4. Great post!
    Putting diversity in a simple format makes it that much easier to appreciate. It encompasses so much more than the obvious. Diversity is normally feared by the thought that the effects are negative, when in fact it’s quite the opposite. It’s really about accepting, appreciating and valuing differences. If we embrace diversity in our personal lives, it transcends in how we interact and communicate on any social level. It becomes interlinked in our subconscious, and who we are as individuals. When one reaches that of level of reasoning, we can achieve so much more.

  5. Chris - Well said! Talking about diversity and living it are two very different things. Its our actions that speak loudest.

    Joe - Thanks for the comment. I totally agree with you...we need to embrace diversity in our lives first, and then allow it to transcend our work. That way, the fear can move away quickly and we can get down to the real value.