Diversity is about more than race, ethnicity

March 15, 2014 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated March 14, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.

Editor, the Advocate:

Why is it when many people think of diversity, they think first of ethnicity and race and then gender? Diversity is much broader.

Diversity is human qualities that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong yet present in other individuals and groups.

It is important to understand how these dimensions affect performance, motivation, success and interactions with others. Institutional structures and practices that have presented barriers to some dimensions of diversity should be examined, challenged and removed.

Many people think that fairness means treating everyone the same.

How well does treating everyone the same work for a diverse staff?

Distributing such memos to all staff is "treating everyone the same." This approach may not communicate essential information to everyone. A staff member who missed essential information might feel that the communication process was unfair. A process that takes account of the diverse levels of English language and reading proficiency among the staff might include taking extra time to make sure that information in an important memorandum is understood.

Many people believe in the golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. The implicit assumption is that how you want to be treated is how others want to be treated. However, when you look at this proverb through a diversity perspective, you begin to ask the questions: What does respect look like; does it look the same for everyone? Does it mean saying hello in the morning or leaving someone alone or making eye contact when you speak? It depends on the individual. We may share similar values, such as respect or need for recognition, but how we show those values through behavior may be different for different groups or individuals.

As a business student in my senior year, diversity in a workplace has helped me to understand how to avoid any lawsuit or prejudice in a workplace. I work in a hair salon, and it helps to know how to be equal with everyone and to know sexual harassment policies. This topic will help me in my journey into the workforce.

Alma Aguilar, a student at University of Houston-Victoria, Orchard



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