The importance of diversity: A message from ABMC Diversity and Inclusion Officer Priscilla Rayson

Successful organizations understand the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) and are not afraid to hire people who look different, think different, or have different beliefs. When we talk about DEIA it is imperative that we understand that, as author Stephen Covey stated, “strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

The evolution of DEIA in the workplace began in the 1960s with the nationwide push for equal rights, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This demand led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 becoming law. Although this effort that was led by prominent African American minister and activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it was supported by a diverse population. Despite their differences, they all had one thing in common and that was the desire to be treated equally inside and outside of the workplace.

The United States is more diverse now than it was decades ago; therefore, it makes good business sense to reflect this diversity in the workplace. It is a known fact that organizations that embrace diversity have proven to be more successful.

I echo the words of Adam Grant, renowned Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, “To get real diversity of thought, you need to find the people who genuinely hold different views and invite them into the conversation.”

Far too often I have sat on hiring panels and heard the interview panelist say, “he or she is not a good fit for our workplace culture." I immediately ask why not, because to me this is how you create a diversified workforce. Employers who hire individuals based on cultural fit are embracing groupthink, which is a culture where everyone’s thinking is the same.

“Instead of looking for people who fit the culture, ask what’s missing from your culture, and select people who can bring that to the table,” Grant also said. I strongly believe that hiring on cultural contribution is a true method to embracing diversity.

Let’s stop embracing groupthink and start fostering a workplace environment that focuses on building a diverse and inclusive team where employees have a sense of belonging. This is key to inclusivity, because when employees feel like they belong to a workplace culture that values their beliefs and takes their ideas and thoughts into consideration, they feel connected and are more productive.

Although much work has been done to implement DEIA in the workplace, there is still more work to be done to create a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. This responsibility lies in our hands, we all have a role to play when it comes to DEIA, so let’s embrace each other’s cultures by learning about each other and understanding that our differences make us a winning team because we are unique.