Baseball wasn’t made great by preventing Jackie Robinson from playing!
Valuing Diversity: It’s not just Politely Avoiding Topics
When people discuss valuing diversity they tend to be referring to race though it has been expanded to gender, sexual preference, and religious beliefs to some degree.
In my experience, this focus is actually counterproductive and has very little impact changing someone’s prejudices. Highlighting differences accentuates those differences – we see what we’re looking for.
Focusing on our differences actually limits our ability to find common ground; it’s not conducive to building collaborative functioning teams. Mankind could not have made any progress if we weren’t able to look beyond our differences and capitalize on each other’s differing strengths to accomplish a greater good.
Truly valuing diversity focuses on our similarities and our strengths – what each of us brings to the table. When we all begin to understand and optimize the differences in temperament and working approach we see that, regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, or political affiliation, we all have something we bring that strengthens our organization and helps each of us achieve our overall goals.
When you truly understand what strengths another has you value what they can do to help achieve success – however it is defined. If I am very creative and you are very pragmatic together there is strong potential for conflict. However, if you value my ideas and I value your ability to implement, together we can accomplish great things that neither alone could have.
Only when we focus on another’s strengths do we overlook the physical, and even ideological differences, and bond together in mutual support towards mutual success; only then will we ever achieve Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s dream.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (August 28, 1963)
Let’s reaffirm Dr. King’s excellent vision and add, “We have a dream that we join together despite our differences to build a prosperous and sustainable planet where every person is free to unlock the potential for greatness that lies within every human heart.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Jamison J. Manion, MBA
Author, Speaker, Executive Coach