Thursday, July 14, 2016

Diverse Thoughts on Why Diversity is Often Good

Diversity has gotten a bad name.  It has come to be associated with the chore of hiring enough minorities and women just to fill a quota, or the frustration of needing to walk on eggshells to avoid being in violation of the code of Political Correctness.

Not everyone can handle diversity.  In one of the studies that support the benefits of diversity in the workplace, specifically in problem-solving teams, the very fact that communication across cultural lines is difficult is cited as the reason for the benefit. Those on diverse teams know they have to build a strong case for ideas that might seem strange to those from a different culture. When everyone on a team is making that effort, there is more thought given to the ideas that are presented. Also, the more diverse teams had a greater number of these well-thought-out ideas because there was less duplication in the collective experience and wisdom of the group.

Not everyone can handle diversity, but there are benefits for everyone when people who can handle it make the effort. The most compelling reason for diversity may be the pooling of resources to address the threat of a common enemy.  Disease, including pandemics, and the reduction of resources that will come along with climate change (man-made or not), are two.

Hatred-based cultural conflict is another common enemy that is currently uniting diverse people.  RamzyBaroud, who grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza, published an article in antiwar.com about a development among Palestinian intellectuals. They have been speaking out in defense of victims of racism all over the world. Their voices were among the loudest in bringing attention to racial violence against  Black Americans, and Black Americans are embracing Palestinians as fellow-sufferers and allies against racism as well.  
If they see no common goal to be served by diversity, people tend to be more comfortable within their own groups. When inter-racial friendships in schools were studied, it was found that in small schools, where the number of possible friends was limited, inter-racial friendships were more common than they were in larger schools, where people tended to associate with those in their own ethnic group.

There are some people, though, who are naturally inclined to form associations across cultural lines.  These people are more likely to have an "ambassadorial"  mindset,and are open to experiencing the things members of a culture have to offer in friendship amongst themselves and to outsiders: their food, their music, their dance and paintings and poetry. When trans-cultural friendships are fostered and forged, conflicts between the “non-ambassadorial” elements of their respective societies have a better chance of being resolved peacefully.

That’s not a new idea. After all, that’s why there are embassies, but these only exist at the international level. BUT, if there were cross-cultural embassies at the state level, at the city level, at the neighborhood level….good things would happen, but only if those ambassadors recognize that they can’t force the goodwill they feel toward one another on everyone else in their respective ethnic groups.  “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.”  If, rather than being slaves to Political Correctness, these local ambassadors were united by the common goal of finding  reasonable, workable solutions  to conflict,  with successes based on how well they understood and could peacefully communicate the frustrations and fears of the groups they represented…maybe they could woik it out, people.

UPDATE:  IRL example of this!


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