Jessica Miller-Merrell | , , , , ,| By
This blog is part 3 in my what is affirmative action series. In part 1, I defined affirmative action. In part 2, I took it the definition of affirmative action a step further. In part 3, we are focusing on corporate diversity and what does it really mean?
DEFINING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Insight Into Diversity explains it well; Affirmative Action is a process that examines and evaluates the total scope of its personnel practices in order to identify and potentially correct issues that cause unequal employment opportunity. If an issue is identified, an establishment may be required to develop and instate programs or practices to balance things out.
DEFINING DIVERSITY AND OUR DIFERENCES
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides two definitions for diversity, both of which are entirely applicable in this situation. 1) the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc. 2) the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization. Personally, I’m a big fan of “Diversity Management.” It’s not something that is required by law but something much of corporate America practices on their own and thus is not regulated or standardized. These programs can differ widely from organization to organization.
WHAT DOES CORPORATE DIVERSITY REALLY MEAN?
Diversity is different from affirmative action. Please repeat with me. It’s not something you have to add to your AAP (affirmative action program). Diversity about broader depth, insights and experiences to you as an individual and to your organization, whether you have been in the game for a long time are building a new startup. No matter where you are on that spectrum, your organizations diversity management programs have the ability to say a lot about your company. The importance you place on diversity can enable you for success.
Diversity is a harnessable resource that can help your business grow and increase profits. It goes beyond race, gender, ability/disability or veteran status. It is far more complex. It reaches into the complexities that form us as individuals. There is something significant to be said for the importance of diversity of thought, experiences and relationships. Acknowledging and placing value in these differences can help you and your organization. Harnessing these offerings that your employees bring to the table will allow you and the leaders within your business to make greater accomplishments within your organization.
My professional as well as personal experiences, upbringing and my diversity of thought has helped me become the person and professional I am today. This type of diversity goes beyond the established definition that we come to think of surrounding diversity. It’s our uniqueness that makes us special, different and valuable as consultants and employees.
Harvard University has a specific intraprenuership internship program where students are able to learn and use entrepreneurial skills to work with an established company, Fidelity Investments, to “solve real challenges inside an established company.” The learning goes both ways. They acknowledge that not only can the students learn from the program but the students have something to offer, intellectual resources that can be utilized.
Diversity is the reason we have intraprenuer programs and interns who meet and engage with CEOs. Diversity is the reason we hire consultants, experts and contractors for project based work. Clearly, leadership within a company has a lot of knowledge and experience to offer up and coming talent, but on the reverse side, that talent has something to offer the leadership as well. No matter who you are or what your status is within your organization, we can all learn from one another, learn things that can benefit or even revolutionize your company. How you choose to use your unique diverse experiences and those of your team is up to you. It’s helped me define my career. Maybe it can do the same for you as an individual or as you go forward and build and hire for your team in 2015.