April 04, 2011 Articles

Why Diversity?

Lately, the word "diversity" is met with mixed emotions; however, when used in the workplace, it is often misunderstood.

By Kelly-Ann Clarke

Lately, the word “diversity” is met with mixed emotions. The term means “the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness; variety; multiformity”; however, when used in the workplace, it is often misunderstood. It does not mean pretending people are identical and ignoring differences. It also does not mean excluding one type of person to accept another person. Diversity simply means creating a culture that fosters inclusion, but inclusion does not refer to race, gender, or ethnicity. Recognizing, accepting, and embracing differences is what diversity is all about. I like telling the story of my godchildren as an example of the goals of diversity. Grace and Grant are precocious, blond-haired and blue-eyed six- and three-year-old children who look very different from me. One day, over bowls of ice cream, they asked me why my skin was brown like chocolate and theirs was like vanilla. I explained that it was just how we are made. They said, “oh,” and asked for more sprinkles and for me to play some games with them. They recognize that we look different, accept it, and love me despite those differences. Diversity Nirvana!

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