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Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Write To The Editor Reprints

In this very interesting article, Mr. Flander uses the phrase "diversity industry" and therein lies the problem. Diversity should not be an industry, but has grown to be one by my well-meaning human resources brothers and sisters.

How about we just recognize that diversity "is" and not get all caught up in trying to manage it, as was also pointed out several times in the article? And by the way, we don't need to "leverage" it either.  

After nearly 40 years as an HR executive, I have come to appreciate that diversity does bring a richness to the workplace, but my colleagues that try to manage it are on a fool's errand. Look, as long as your staff pulls together to produce a product or service in an acceptable manner, there is nothing wrong with people sitting in the lunchroom together if they share a common bond of race or national origin or language.

And by the way, it doesn't mean that they distrust others. It only means that they like to talk to people that have common interests.  

If we really want to help diversity, we will quit pointing out the differences among us as humans and discourage companies from sponsoring special interest groups that are generally divided along racial, gender, national origin, or lifestyle lines. Why not recognize that people are different on a variety of fronts, and that it is okay?  

After many years in "Corporate America" I now work as the HR Director for a small, non-profit healthcare company. We employ 350 people from 39 different countries. We are 40 percent White, 37 percent Black, 15 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian, and 3 percent Other. 

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By any measure, we are pretty diverse. While we're very happy with this, we neither manage it nor leverage it. It just "is".

As regards providing service to our customers, we are regarded as one of the best at what we do. When we work on behalf of our customers, one would see people of diverse cultures, races and national origins pulling together for the greater good.

When it is meal time, you will generally see people sitting together who look and sound pretty much like themselves. We don't see that as a problem that needs to fixed, managed, or leveraged.  

Joe Rousseau SPHR 
Human Resources Director 
Pines of Sarasota

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