Have you noticed that everyone today wants a more diverse and inclusive culture? Whether you are applying for college, starting your first job or buying your first home, the word diversity pops up somewhere. So much so that diversity has become almost a buzz-word like collaboration in the workplace. However, I do wonder if people really understand what diversity means? Or more importantly, why they might want to learn, work and live in a diverse environment.
What it’s not
For the most part when people think of diversity, they usually equate it to one of the following: race, gender, age, sex or class. I am pretty sure this is a result of how we classify certain groups for laws and it has been passed on to how we view the word. These are diverse populations, but this is not necessarily diversity or a diverse or inclusive culture.
Imagine a table of 10 middle-aged Caucasian men and a table of 10 African-American teenagers, which one has more diversity? If we base it off of the common belief that race defines diversity then the table of African-American teenagers has the most. However, diversity is defined as all the ways in which we differ, including not only race and age, but where we were born, religion, bald, eye color, education, height, etc. So if the table of African-American teenagers were all 18 years old, seniors in the same high school, grew up together in the same part of town, Methodist, 5’ 5”, with brown eyes and high-top fades, we could argue there was not a lot of diversity among their group. However, if the table of Caucasian men includes no one who was the same height, same original race, religion, grew up in the same town, had different levels of education, different careers, and different levels of hair loss, we could argue there was more diversity at that table.
What it is
Way too often, we limit ”diversity” to just race, nationality, age, etc. and include nothing else. Yet it is our whole set of differences which makes up our true diversity. It is the differences that determine our perspectives on the world. When we talk about why it is important to be in a diverse environment, it is the chance to understand and appreciate all the things that make us different. Working or going to school with a diverse population gives you the opportunity to learn from and even respect people with perspectives different than your own. It provides you a different lens through which you can see how others view and react to the world around them.
Being exposed to different beliefs, religions, generations or cultures may change some of your perspectives on life. I am not saying you have to agree with everything you hear, nor am I setting an expectation that your life will change—but there is power in listening to and understanding perspectives other than your own …and to me that is what diversity is all about. What does it mean to you?
Wells Fargo is always looking to hire diverse candidates, please apply at www.wellsfargo.com.