Let’s go ahead and get the obvious out of the way. Yes, I am a white male and I want to talk about Diversity. Ok, now that is over, can we continue?
It wasn’t too long ago when my daughter made a comment to me that made me pause: “Dad, you have the most diverse group of friends you know?”
Looking back over my life, I realized my circle of friends and acquaintances were always diverse. I am not just speaking about racial diversity but cultural, religious, thought and more.
I guess I like learning about other cultures? No that’s not it.
Maybe I like being “that guy” who’s the true representation of the new cultural ideal called “inclusion”? No, that’s not it either.
As I have spent some time really trying to understand the “why”, I realized I was making it too complicated. Why is diversity important to me? I love people and enjoy understanding what makes them tick.
I guess what drives me nuts is how this topic has become about checking boxes or embracing change when it is really about people. When did we take the HUMAN out of humanity? I do not understand why I should have to train anyone to look at someone for WHO they are and overlook WHAT they are. Sure, I see someone’s race or nationality, but that does not define who they are or better yet, who they could be in my organization. That’s why diversity is important to me.
The real reason diversity is important
So am I passionate about diversity because it’s the “in thing”? Absolutely not.
Is it because it’s part of my management responsibilities for my current organization? Hell no!
I’m in it to win it when it comes to Diversity because I want to change the conversation. I want us to start talking about humanity and not just diversity. I want to sit with managers and candidates to learn how they would fit in this human puzzle we call an organization. And by fit, I don’t mean do we have a group for them to fit into but do we have an opportunity that aligns with their passion and skill set? If we have that, what else really matters?
We need to start having those difficult conversations but be able to have them in a safe environment. If there are no female leaders in your organization, you should be able to have that conversation with the management team and understand the reason why. Perhaps it’s because they have a bias or perhaps it’s because your recruiting strategy sucks. Either way, the conversation needs to be had.
When deeply dividing events happen nationally, we have to pull our teams together and talk through the feelings in a safe environment. We have to start listening to each other again with not just our ears out of obligation but our hearts out of necessity.
Creating a new legacy
To end, I would like to share another story about my little girl.
This past Christmas, she and I visited the Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta.
As she sat and watched a film showing countless acts of inhumanity, she looked at me with a face of pure confusion and asked, “Dad, how can someone hate someone else so much that they do this kind of stuff?”
It was one of those times as a parent when I didn’t have the answer. Honestly, I ask myself the same question but in a different way. Why can’t we see each other as humans who make up a beautiful, delicately woven and divinely made fabric?
So to answer the question, my passion is driven by my daughter. I want her to be raised to see that people are not defined by what they are but who they are. I want her to know that one person can start a revolution and affect their organization which will affect their community and the families within that community. One decision to be passionate about the human experience and bring compassion, understanding and fearless communication can affect generations if we just take the first step.
I’m taking that step, will you?