young, curious, kind
wise beyond her fourteen years
I had the pleasure of having lunch with my daughter this afternoon. I eat with her all the time but today, it was just us and there was no rush. Nice doesn’t begin to describe it.
I only have my kiddos one-half of every week so often, the first day together is “catch up” day. I was telling Carolyn about the diversity class I taught earlier this week and she appeared to be more than “politely interested.” She asked all kinds of questions, had tons of comments and thoughts about it, and then offered her own story about a movie she watched at school. The movie had been about bigotry and bias.
I sat, listened and was so proud of my daughter.
Carolyn’s questions, thoughts and stories told me that somewhere in that beautiful 14 year old frame was a heart willing to learn, willing to accept, and willing to include others, regardless of what they looked like, where they came from, or how they talked. Whether they were bookworms, jocks, nerds, geeks or otherwise, she believes they have a place in her circle.
This evening, as I wind down my day, I am contrasting what I saw in Carolyn with what I see at work. Over the years, I have learned dysfunctional teams all have something in common: communication problems and a lack of willingness or interest in diversity.
Carolyn’s questions told me that she is interested in learning about others. It was obvious she’s curious about cultural differences, educational differences, age differences, communication differences, thinking differences, etc.
Carolyn’s thoughts and concerns told me that she is an accepting and forgiving young soul.
Carolyn’s comments about what is happening at her school, about her ideas for intentionally “mixing groups up” for lab work, teamwork, etc., told me that she sees how our differences make for a better “whole.”
And finally, Carolyn’s concerns about what she perceived as “wrongs” or hatefulness tells me that she recognizes prejudice and, thank goodness, is extremely uncomfortable with it.
Carolyn’s thoughts and attitudes are exactly what managing and promoting diversity is all about.
Be inquisitive, not judgmental.
You can’t manage diversity without first having an awareness and understanding of everyone’s differences.
Be open minded and accepting.
You can’t promote diversity without first believing that everyone has value.
We all make mistakes, we all have habits we need to break, and we all have bias’ that perhaps show through in our words and actions. This doesn’t necessarily make us bad people…it just makes us human. Moving beyond those moments and forgiving mistakes will go a long way in encouraging and capitalizing on diversity.
Diversity isn’t an initiative or an activity that simply comes and goes…it’s a way of thinking, a culture if you will.
Diversity, in terms of our labor market, is happening on its own. However, managing diversity, accepting diversity, promoting diversity…these things will not happen on their own.
As leaders, we must be pro-active. We must encourage the learning and understanding of our differences. We must begin to communicate the value these differences bring to our work. We must reach out and include others who may have previously been avoided or overlooked. And above all, we must put a stop to prejudicial behavior.
I am proud of my daughter…I pray that her values will continue to be demonstrated at school, on the soccer field, at work, etc.
Carolyn makes an excellent role model, and I aspire to be like her.