Volume 36, March 2004: Valuing Diversity

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2004 ISSN # 1545-8873

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” — Helen Keller

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.” — Anonymous

“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.” — John F. Kennedy


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Viewing the richness of diversity as an asset to your organization.
  • Discovering and utilizing the talents of all people.
  • Demonstrating the values of egalitarianism, achievement, and individualism through actions, not just words
  • Distributing power and leadership, providing opportunity.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Similarity breeds liking, so the social psychologists say. You will prefer to keep the company of people like you – in age, gender, social status, cultural background.When hiring, promoting, composing your leadership team, or decision-making, you will be drawn to include people you “like” and who are like you. But to change the culture of an organization – so that it offers genuine opportunity to all people – will require that you resist this impulse that leads to ethnocentrism. Your commitment to diversity must be unflinching, and people will look to you to show the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

“How do I encourage the dominant culture to accept the ‘outsiders’?”
It begins with leadership, as we said above. To be fair is not to treat all people the same, but to treat all people with equal respect and dignity. This means honoring cultural differences. A useful exercise is to ask people to consider all the cultures they belong to – region of the country, gender group, corporate culture, mother/father,etc. and the rules, norms, and values of each sub-group. We are all , in fact, culturally diverse entities and are programmed differently. None of us are alike. Diversity is not about them, it is about us. Yet when you really look at the data, we are more alike than we are different. All of humankind has shared the same basic human experience since the beginning of time. Variation in cultural practices are overshadowed by universal life events – e.g., birth, growth, joining, parting, death. In visioning exercises conducted around the world, all people want the same things. To be loved, to be someone, to engage in meaningful work, to experience joy, and to be connected to a higher order.
“How do we gain greater understanding of the cultures within our workforce?”
Borrowing from Gardenswartz & Rowe (1998):
  • Ask the employees of the other cultures to teach you the differences.
  • Ask cultural informants outside the organization.
  • Tap community resources, cultural coalitions and associations.
  • Read about other cultures.
  • Observe without judgment.
  • Share what you have learned with each other.
  • Conduct focus groups.
  • Use employee/customer survey information.
  • Experiment with different behaviors and approaches.
  • Spend time in other cultures.
“How is valuing diversity different from EEO and Affirmative Action Plans?”
Equal employment law and affirmative action focus on preventing discrimination in employment that impacts workforce representation. Valuing diversity is an outgrowth of these, but goes beyond mere numbers to embrace the potential of every person.
“Why has our Diversity Training effort failed to integrate the various cultural factions?”
While there is a real need for training and education, it is critical to integrate diversity into the operational structure of the organization – e.g., recruitment, career development, reward and recognition, communication systems. Embracing diversity is about sharing power. Those who have it are not eager to give it up. Therefore, commitment at the highest level is called for. Open, tactful discussions about the new demographic reality and the associated fears, frustrations and discomfort can be helpful, to begin the molding of a different culture. More interchanges than just classroom learning are called for. Valuing diversity requires reaching out with generosity of spirit and a willingness to work in a mosaic world.


Books, simulations, and other training materials about crossing cultures: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Video tapes, books, audio tapes, software and workshops: Diversity Training Videos.

Visit the National Multicultural Institute for publications, training and consulting: National Multicultural Institute.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Resources for cultural diversity at work: DiversityCentral.

An online resource offering up to date cultural reference including nearly 200 country reports, and an online database. An insider’s perspective on daily life and culture, including the history, customs, and societies of the world’s people: CultureGrams.

Over 4,000 pages of news, articles and case studies on the business benefits of diversity: DiversityInc.


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  • Althen, Gary. Understanding American Ways in the United States. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1988.
  • Arrendondo, Patricia. Successful Diversity Management Initiatives: A Blueprint for Planning & Implementation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996.
  • Baytos, Lawrence M. Designing and Implementing Successful Diversity Programs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995.
  • Carnevale, Anthony P. & Susan C.Stone. The American Mosaic: An In-depth Report on the Future of Diversity at Work. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995.
  • Chideya, Farai. The Color of Our Future. New York: William Morrow, 1999.
  • Gardenswartz, Lee, & Anita Rowe. Managing Diversity: A Complete Desk Reference and Planning Guide (Revised). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
  • Gardenswartz, L., Rowe, A. Digh, P. & Martin F. Bennett. The Global Diversity Desk Reference. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2003.
  • Hall, Edward T. Beyond Culture. New York: Anchor Books, 1989.
  • Hayles, Robert & Armida Mendaz Russell. The Diversity Directive: Why Some Initiatives Fail and What to Do About It. Chicago, IL: Irwin Publishing and ASTD, 1997.
  • Jamieson, David & Julie O'Mara. Managing Workforce 2000: Gaining the Diversity Advantage. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1991.
  • Judy, Richard W. & Carol D'Amico. Workforce 2000: Work and Workers in the 21st Century. Indianapolis, IN: Hudson Institute, 1997.
  • Morrison, Terri, Borden, George A., & Wayne Conway. Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in Sixty Countries. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1994.
  • Pederson, Paul. A Handbook for Developing Multicultural Awareness. Alexandria, VA: American Association for Counseling and Development, 1988.
  • Ponteroto, Joseph J. & Paul B. Pederson. Preventing Prejudice: A Guide for Counselors and Educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1993.
  • Simons, George F., Vasquez, Carmen & Philip R. Harris. Transcultural Leadership: Empowering the Diverse Workforce. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing, 1993.
  • Simons, George F. & Amy J. Zuckerman. Working Together: Succeeding in a Multicultural Organization. Los Altos, CA: Crisp Publications, 1994.
  • Walton, Sally J. Cultural Diversity in the Workplace. Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, 1994.
  • Wheeler, Michael L. Diversity Training. New York: Conference Board, 1994.
  • Wilson, Trevor. Diversity at Work: The Business Case for Equity. Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada: John Wiley & Sons, 1997.


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