During the summer of 1996, I was Regional Manager at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for the Office of Diversity & Economic Opportunity in Irvine, CA. Twenty years ago the idea of promoting diversity in the workplace was new. Several corporations were instituting diversity initiatives in the workplace. Because of the mentality about diversity during that time, I decided to write this short poem entitled “You Are Diversity.”
“Diversity is not just a concept it’s a way of life. And Managing Diversity is not achieved with just a roll of the dice. We must thrive and thrive to learn all we can. To finally understand and work with our fellow man. Diversity is a concept this is true. But it’s also reality through and through.”
EEO was the principal focus 20 years ago with so-called Diversity Initiatives lagging behind. However, diversity training was gaining speed. Today we have a new word added – Inclusion. What will the next word or phrase be? Suffice it to say we have been a diverse society since there were only two people on earth, and we have been trying to get along with each other ever since. What will it take? Perhaps a better question would be, could we ever be a society without discrimination? The answer I believe is a resounding no. But we can come to an understanding of how to work with each other to minimize distraction and reduce lost labor talent. We call it “Diversity Training.” Some call it “Emotional Intelligence.”
Whatever its name, learning to live and work side-by-side with others in harmony will always be an ongoing process. But it can be done. Just look at situations when there is a tragic event. In every case, no one asks what color, race, national origin, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation you are. No! We never ask any of those questions before helping someone. We are human beings and when tragedy strikes all we see are other human beings in need of help. So we help! In some cases, we even put our lives in danger to assist. Why? Because deep down 99.5% of us have a loving spirit and that love rises to the top of who we are.
We are diverse, but we are also spiritual beings endowed with love. So why not let that same love that is exhibited in tragic times to spill over into every aspect of our lives. I believe diversity training and “Emotional Intelligence” are the keys to bridging the gap between diversity and genuine, heartfelt inclusion in the workplace.