Diversity – More Than Meets the Eye

Kranitz, Andrea for BlogAndrea Kranitz, Class 27
Owner/Consultant, Integrative Business Solutions, LLC

The Class 27 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community. 

My expectation for Scottsdale Leadership Class XXVII’s Diversity and Inclusion day was that we would spend the day discussing race relations, discrimination and how to work toward equality.  When I saw the opening slide picturing an iceberg with adjectives above and below the “water line,” I immediately realized that this day would hold much more than expected.

Iceburg

Our Day Chairs were outstanding –  Marion Kelly, Community Relations Director at Mayo Clinic, Doreen Reinke, VP of Operations at Scottsdale Insurance Company and Linda Walton, Economic Development Specialist at City of Scottsdale Economic Development gave us their full energy and created an interactive and enlightening experience for the class.

To launch the day, we went over definitions of diversity and inclusion – learned that tolerance is not truly acceptance and that true inclusion means that ALL PEOPLE are

Treated fairly and respectfully,
Have equal access,
Contribute fully and
Maximize their potential.

Our first exercise involved profiling; typically we think of profiling as something that law enforcement officials do in order to get the bad guys off the streets.  However……we ALL do it and it is a natural and human tendency.  The differentiating factor between “good” and “bad” profiling is that it should be an appropriate discrimination, such as when safety is in question.

The exercise involved matching a list of professions with pictures of different people – not surprisingly, most of us only got about 2 out of 10 correct.  So, how do you keep yourself from unfairly profiling?  Think before acting – take a minute to go a little deeper and ask yourself why you feel uncomfortable with someone.  Determine whether it is a learned stereotype or irrational fear that is causing you to prejudge- “check yourself before you act.”

Because diversity is not a program or initiative, it has no beginning and no end.  It is an ongoing state of being where we live and accept that we have similarities and differences.  It isn’t about making us all the same or isolating ourselves because of our differences.

There are so many factors that affect how we react to others’ differences including our upbringing, fears, cultural conditioning, communication, assumptions and the list goes on. So, how do we continue to move toward a balance in our society where we don’t go overboard trying to be politically correct, but we do appreciate diversity, learn to treat others as THEY want to be treated and understand that everyone has something to offer?

We must create an environment where it is okay for someone to share that they are offended, and for others to listen and become more sensitive to the consequences of their actions.  In other words, we must engage in Civil Dialogue!

What can you do in your own sphere of influence, to create this kind of environment?

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