GUEST POST-Gary Rush, IAF CPF, CEO of MGR Consulting
Much of the discussion around diversity is how it has not produced the desired results.
I believe that a significant part of the reason why “diversity” does not work is the underlying language used.
Race – This is an artificial convention created to justify slavery. Still today, society uses “race” as a means to divide humankind discriminating against “those” whose characteristics either describe what they want to be a part of or want to avoid.
We even make use of the word when people with different ancestral origins marry, by calling it “interracial”. The fact is that according to science and genetics, there is only one race – the human race. The concept of “race” needs to be abolished.
Tolerance – To tolerate is to “put up with” and that’s not a healthy attitude. It’s healthier to embrace the differences, not simply tolerate them.
The negative connotation of tolerance completely undermines the goal of diversity. People need to recognize that the differences make life richer so if we embrace the differences instead of putting up with them, we begin to achieve the goal of “inclusion”. Tolerance is best replaced by “embrace.”
“People of Color” – Every person is a person of color. Segregating people based on their skin color is harmful. By claiming that people who have darker skin are “people of color” only perpetuates racism.
Another problem with this phrase is that the colors referred to are wholly incorrect – I’ve never seen a “white” or a “black” person. Our skin colors are far more complex than that. This phrase does nothing but perpetuate racism.
The Census – In the USA, the Census Bureau asks people to select a “race” and it requires us to pick one, which is getting more difficult given that, today, people are more of a melting pot. It segregates us into artificial classifications. The Census Bureau only needs to focus on citizen or non-citizen.
I suggest that everyone involved in “diversity and inclusion” (D&I) evolve the language. Begin by dropping “diversity” and adopting “Inclusivity” – it has a more positive connotation, include all, which always has been the desired goal of “diversity”. Inclusivity is key.
FORBES CONTRIBUTOR-Glenn Llopis, Glenn Llopis Group: a nationally recognized workforce development and business strategy consulting firm
One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes is:
“There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
…and I am just going to come out and say it: Most diversity and inclusion initiatives fall into the former category: sincere ignorance.
They look and sound great. They are usually well-meaning too. But a vast number of these initiatives prove ineffective or fail within a year or two.
Why? Sincere ignorance: Start talking to the people who put them together, and more often than not you realize that the details and depth of strategic thinking behind them is as thin as the paper they are printed on.