viewpoint

The Diversity Destination and Journey: “Are We There Yet?”

FOR MORE THAN a quarter of a century, the American Institute for Managing Diversity (AIMD) has been involved in leading, guiding, and partnering with companies, academia, and community organizations to advance the field of diversity. Many of the inquiries that come to AIMD are related to whether the “diversity” question has been answered and, if so, can we check it off the list as completed? In the words of a Karen Carpenter song from the 1970s, there are times when I think that the “We’ve Only Just Begun” song title applies to the diversity experience. There is more to do and more to learn and, just when you think you’ve got it, the journey and the destination are redefined. “Are we there yet?” How many times have you heard “are we there yet?”— particularly on a long journey with children. The question is usually asked repeatedly until the journey is over. But it is curiosity about the destination, and the excitement about what awaits them that may be driving the questions. The subject of diversity and the process of managing diversity generate the same type of dynamics. All of us have heard this question or conversation at some point in time as organizations and leaders work to understand and implement diversity and the elements connected to it. “Are we done yet?” This is a different diversity question that also comes up and implies that diversity is going to be finished or “done” at some point in time. There is not an end-date out there that we will all reach, or ever reach at the same time. Companies are working on developing and expanding their business case for diversity and creating a road map to follow for implementing practices that are sustainable. CDOs, consultants, and educators are continuing to research diversity, build diversity models, and expand the view of diversity management. Students and employees across all generations are asking questions and offering new dialogue about diversity. “Are we there yet AND are we done?” Have we arrived at a final diversity destination point and, once there, are we finished with diversity now? Feedback and discussion from our constituents, students, practitioners, researchers, and consultants tell us that we are still on the diversity journey and there is more work to be done.

F
M aY / J u n e 2 0 1 0

By Pamela Arnold,

President

American Institute for Managing Diversity, Inc.

An example of this would be an organization that recognizes that they are “diversity challenged,” so they develop diversity education modules for all levels of the company. Over the next 12 months everyone, including new employees, goes through the training. Assessments performed both before and after the training indicate that the training has increased diversity awareness. But the journey is not finished. Now that the employees have increased their learning, a plan needs to be developed to implement changes to the processes, systems, and policies and procedures for sustainability. Additional steps may include change management, organizational changes, additional training, and other steps to keep moving forward. The next time you feel compelled to ask, or you are asked of the diversity destination “are we there yet,” consider these points: • The Diversity dialogue and journey is ongoing. The search for diversity and inclusion answers may be different for each organization, team, and individual— and the solutions will be unique. • Diversity Recruitment—Talent management. Organizations are always looking for diverse talent to bring creativity, imagination, and innovation to the business and to the bottom line. Getting, keeping and retaining talent is ongoing. • Diversity is not limited to a place or thing or point in time. • There are no “one-size-fits-all” or “one-answer-fits-all” solutions. • Diversity, like people, is not static; it is always moving, changing, evolving. • There is no final completion date! AIMD is excited about continuing the journey and serving as the Global Positioning System (GPS) to help its constituents move forward and foster breakthrough ideas and practices in diversity through education, research and public outreach. Come join us and enjoy the journey! PDJ

Pamela W. Arnold is President of the American Institute for Managing Diversity, Inc. The organization is a 501 (c) (3) public interest non-profit dedicated to advancing diversity thought leadership through research, education, and public outreach. AIMD works to strengthen our communities and institutions through effective diversity management. For more information, please visit www.aimd.org.

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Pro f i les i n D i ve rsit y Journal