A growing number of Americans now drive out to the countryside to buy non-homogenized milk directly from small, family-owned farms. Why? Because it has more flavor than the sanitized, grocery store variety. It’s also more satisfying.
Diversity in the workplace isn’t about eradicating the attitudes, styles, characteristics, and cultural traits which make people different, but about respecting and celebrating those differences. Studies show that diverse workforces have an edge over their more homogenous competitors when it comes to innovation. A team made up of people of different genders, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and religions will, by its varied nature, be more dynamic in its approach to creating new products and services and improving old ones. Such teams also put a more diverse spin on the advertising of these products and services. Bland down your employees’ differences by, overtly or subtly, encouraging them all to think and act the same and you will end up with the human resources equivalent of homogenized grocery-store milk.
When I was in school, teachers taught us that America was one big melting pot into which generation after generation of immigrants was assimilated. Today the trend in American schools, as well as in American society, is to move away from assimilation and towards multiculturalism. Drawing on the art and music and cuisine and traditions of immigrants makes our country more colorful and more interesting than any melting pot ever could. To derive the greatest benefits from your employees’ backgrounds, do not push a culture of assimilation but one of mutual respect. This, in turn, will attract a more diverse customer base. As whites slowly lose their foothold as the majority race in our country, appealing to more diverse clientele simply makes good business sense.
In her recent commentary “2013: The Year Men Became Obsolete?” for Time Magazine (December 30, 2013) Camille Paglia addressed the error Americans have made in expecting successful, high-achieving women to act like men. “In France, Italy, Spain and Latin America, by contrast, many ambitious women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamor. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences.”
The purpose of diversity training should not be to create a gender-blind, race-blind, homogenous workforce, but a workforce which values and capitalizes on the diverse merits and strengths of its employees.