I have blogged before about diversity (see https://joanneeven.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/what-makes-the-world-go-round/) in response to a class session on culture and discrimination where I discussed efforts to insert myself into environments that were demographically diverse. This, I suppose, is the “usual” category of differences people think of when talking about diversity — gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc. It was interesting for me to read Levi’s chapter on diversity and think of that concept in terms of psychological and organizational diversity. I wonder if I am as open to seeking out opportunities to surround myself with those types of diversity?
Psychological diversity, as described in Levi, includes values, beliefs, and attitudes; personality, cognitive, and behavioral styles; and knowledge, skills, and abilities. I’ll start with the latter grouping since that seems the easiest to address. I wondered recently if I was becoming less smart and then quickly realized that instead I seemed to be surrounded by a lot of really smart people. My parents raised me to see myself as “smarter than the average bear,” but between the intelligence I find in my classmates and the collective brain power of my work colleagues, I wonder if I can claim to be smarter anymore. While it can be intimidating at times, I do enjoy being in the company of those from whom I can learn so much.
Next, I turn to my close friends to see if I can pass the test of inclusiveness in the other areas of psychological diversity. While I find some differences, I have to admit, I do seem to have a “similar-to-me” approach with my friends, with one major area of difference. A good number of my friends believe strongly in “meant to be” whereas I subscribe to what I call the theory of random chaos. This often leads me to have a more cynical approach to life than they do, but we don’t let that get in the way of our friendship.
I find I have trouble recognizing the traits that are listed as organizational diversity as being meaningful differences to me, but maybe that comes from my background in marketing which, to be successful at, necessitates me to be able to work with people across an organization including product development, sales, customer services, information technology, and legal & compliance as well as all levels of management. However, I have seen instances of discrimination within an organization between the “top” and “bottom” levels as well as between departments, and it has always struck me as extremely unproductive, short-sighted, and sometimes just plain silly.
Levi offers better communication as a tool to combat the conflicts found in diverse groups. My hope is that my marketing communications background and relative openness to variety will help me in my efforts to lead or facilitate groups I work with who don’t view diversity as the spice of life. An ambitious hope, I know, but even in my theory of random chaos, things can sometimes work out like I plan.