Decide Diversity- 3 Ways You Can

           As a child, to celebrate MLK Day, I recited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to a congregation of family and friends. I stood behind the podium and echoed Dr. King's iconic mannerisms and intonations that he used to incite crowds. I felt powerful. In that moment, I felt as though I could accomplish just as much as Dr. King. I was intrigued by his confidence and sureness in making difficult decisions, even if it resulted in his death. Dr. King decided to stand up against segregation, discrimination, unfair pay, and other social injustices.

          As we return to work after the holiday, we often think about what we can do to make Dr. King proud and forward his mission. One thing you can do is Decide Diversity. We spend at least 2080 hours at work a year, where 91% of all executives are white, 88% of all operations managers are white, and 83% of all human resource managers are white (DOL, 2014). We have an uphill battle in getting more people of color, women, LGBTQ, disabled, and veterans into leadership positions in the workplace. But why? Why is diversity in the workplace important?

Diversity leads to higher innovation. People from diverse backgrounds have different experiences and perspectives that they bring to the workplace. These ideas help teams think outside the box to develop new and improved products and deliver top quality service.

Diversity leads to better customer representation. Organizations have the opportunity to genuinely reach more people when their workforce is representative of the customer base. How logical is it for an organization to market to African American men 24-40, yet not have any African Americans on staff? This isn't to say that one African American can speak for an entire race, but he can bring a different perspective to the table that can make marketing to the target group more effective.

Diversity is the right thing to do. 50 years from now, our children and grandchildren will look back and be disgusted by the demographic makeup of organizations that we created and allowed, just as we are disgusted that people of color were treated as they were 50 years ago.

          Decide Diversity. Decide that you will be aware of issues affecting communities of people other than your own. Decide that you will speak up for workforce diversity. Decide that you will not accept workplace injustices. Decide that you will do what is right. No matter what position in the organization you are in, you can make a difference. Decide that you will make a difference today. Decide Diversity.