A Concern on ‘Diversity’ in the Workplace

The dictionary describes the word ‘diversity’ as “political entities (neighborhoods, cities, nations, student bodies, etc.) with members who have identifiable differences in their backgrounds or lifestyles”. So basically – the end goal of diversity is unity, right? However – I’m not so sure the public and private sector endorse this definition.

When we encourage diversity, are we defining relationships by our differences? It seems to me that we focus on what makes us different, more than what makes us the same. Take for example, the recent supreme court ruling about the discrimination of white fire fighters seeking promotion. The fear of a law suit claiming non-compliance with federal diversity laws only encouraged discrimination. I can’t imagine this is doing much for the unification of the New Haven, Connecticut.

President Obama (or ‘POTUS’, depending on your usage level of government acronyms) recently delivered a phenomenal speech in Cairo, Egypt where he called for a ‘new beginning’ between the U.S. and Muslims around the world: “So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace…”

I agree Mr. President. Well said. But we can’t seem to move beyond our differences. Even POTUS declared June “LGBT Pride Month”. I highly doubt he would also endorse a “Heterosexual Pride Month”—that would offend too many people.

I recently read a fabulous talk by one of my favorite lawyers, entitled, “Weightier Matters“. In it, Dallin H. Oaks explains diversity:

“Diversity for its own sake is meaningless and can clearly be shown to lead to unacceptable results. For example, if diversity is the underlying goal for a neighborhood, does this mean we should take affirmative action to assure that the neighborhood includes thieves and pedophiles, slaughterhouses and water hazards? Diversity can be a good method to achieve some long-term goal, but public policy discussions need to get beyond the slogan to identify the goal, to specify the proposed diversity, and to explain how this kind of diversity will help to achieve the agreed goal.”

He also quoted a BYU professor as saying that diversity has been used “as a euphemism for moral relativism”. That’s a whole different subject.


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