Diversity Diva Newsletter - July 31, 2010
Michelle T. Johnson


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Featured Question of the Month

What does workplace diversity and inclusion cover?

a. Only racial minority groups and women

b. Only groups protected under local, state and federal EEOC laws

c. Whatever group is getting the most airtime on the news

d. Any person, group or culture that has to deal with fitting their lifestyle, history, viewpoint or culture into the workplace.

Answer: See next month's newsletter!

Looking for someone to help with your diversity needs involving writing, speaking or training? Call or email me!
Diversity Diva Newsletter

Lucky you, you're among the first to get my debut newsletter addressing issues of Workplace Diversity! It's a monthly newsletter where your get a little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll when it comes to my views on diversity and where, hopefully, you can become part of my mission to make the American workplace a happier, better, more fair workplace, one person at a time.

So please forward this to anyone interested in workplace diversity and enjoy!

Michelle a.k.a The Diversity Diva
Is Workplace Diversity Becoming An Obsolete Issue?
Why is workplace diversity still important in a time and place where we have a black President, and female Secretary of State and many Hispanics, Asians and gay and lesbian in very important and visible positions?

Ahhh, if only it were that easy!. First of all, my battle cry is and always will be that diversity is more than race, gender and sexual orientation. Diversity isn't just about non-discrimination, even though that's pretty big.

Diversity is just another word for difference. It's about how people relate to one another based on who they are, where they come from, and how they live their lives right now.

We live in an increasingly boxed up society. By that I mean, that the more differences people openly acknowledge and celebrate, the more ability people have to stick someone in a mental box and think they know everything they need to know.

The problem is, real people get in the way. Celebrities on the TV screen, politicians in the news, even pretty pictures on company brochures have nothing to do with individual employers or co-workers or subordinates.

The American workplace isn't a melting pot - it's more like a highway intersection where people have no real input or control over the people they will meet, drive beside or even crash into.

Progress in society reflected by the rich, famous and powerful is a great marker for the equality we fight to achieve. But true equality is a constant goal where the measuring stick has to be applied one workplace at a time, one person at a time.
July Diversity Diva Column
Dear Diversity Diva:

I just don't get celebrating Gay Pride Month at work. I mean, I don't particularly care for Black History Month or Women's History Month being recognized at work either, but I at least get that people can't help their race or gender. But I don't get why we are celebrating people's personal lives?

Signed, Straight and Humble

Dear Straight and Humble,

My short column couldn't begin to touch the complexities of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in our society, let alone the workplace, but I hope I can shed a little light.

Sexual orientation may seem like just a "personal" issue to you, and to a certain extent, you're right regardless of whether you are straight or gay. But personal aspects have never been left completely out of the workplace - a man putting a picture of his wife on the desk, a woman hanging up her children's artwork in her office. All personal. All casually accepted.

There are few jobs that are so rigidly impersonal that those touches reflecting an employee's individual humanity or family life are outright banned. They are what make most employees more productive and comfortable at work.

Even in the military where soldiers wear the same uniform and uniformly honor the same rules, part of their bonding is over allegiance to their loved ones.

You may not feel comfortable knowing about the different sexual and family orientations of others your work with, let alone celebrating them, but that doesn't make them go away.

The truth is organizations always step on shaky ground when they acknowledge and celebrate the differences of their employees. But the companies who do so are smart enough to get that it's not just about "feel good" moments but instead about promoting an environment in which everyone works well because no one is expending unproductive energy hiding fundamental aspects of who they are.

Column originally published in the Kansas City Star and is not to be reproduced, sold, published or broadcast without permission of the copyright owner (the author).
Remember, when it comes to understanding others, seek first to understand than to be understood and when it comes to conflict, don't start none, won't be none!

"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way you will command the attention of the world."
George Washington Carver

Michelle T. Johnson
Diversity Diva