Leaders and professionals ask me what I think diversity is and how to define it clearly. I tend to focus less about particular definitions than about the actual behaviors that we practice in the workplace. Diversity is often given a lot of verbiage but very little practical support in organizations so it's helpful to start the whole definition process with the leadership in the organization.
Leaders have a lot of discretion over whether their behaviors lead in a supportive, inclusive and honoring direction or take some other path. Their diversity programs live or founder based on their level of commitment based on their own thoughts and actions. You can consistently tell whether an organization has leadership that values diversity because it will look like they do. There will be a wide range of people reflecting different ages, abilities, ethnicity, gender, educational background, culture and philosophies working together effectively. People trust each other and value differences. Better yet, you get the sense that differences are a non-issue.
I like to think in terms of practicing behaviors that include others, build relationships and get rid of interactions that perpetuate conflict. Here are a few key ideas or “definitions” that I think of when I hear the word diversity. Think of your own definition and the results it creates in your workplace.
There are many ways to define diversity and none changes the basic concept that it’s really about welcoming and honoring people who are not like us. There are as many definitions as there are leaders and each one has the capability to include or exclude. What's your definition of diversity?