Looking at diversity through a new lens requires not only new thinking on how to construct an initiative, but thinking about the very language of diversity in a new way. An initiative that makes the company more effective and more profitable has clear appeal to the executive leadership. But for the initiative to be embraced by employees at all levels of the organization, we must reframe perceptions. A diversity initiative can no longer be a field trip (or series of field trips) to the Museum of Cultural Sensitivity.
An effective initiative focuses on examining, understanding, appreciating, embracing, and perhaps most important, leveraging difference in all its forms. Difference impacts employees every day—but often in ways they don’t even consider.
Put another way, this is beyond issues of black and white. While race is certainly important, and a diversity issue that is easily understood, building effective teams and organizations requires paying attention a much broader range of difference, including everything from religion, gender, and sexual orientation to learning styles, family status, and physical ability.