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Who Has the Ball for 21st Century Diversity and Inclusion

Last week I had the distinct opportunity to visit with faculty and staff at Pomona College. They reflected on their diversity and inclusion journey and the framework for change which has been captured in their "Lighting the Path to 2025" strategic plan.

As I strolled across the various campuses that encompasses not only Pomona but Harvey Mudd, Clairmont, Scripps and several other fine higher educational institutions, I was struck by the fact that Dr. Peter Drucker was from here.

I wondered what he might suggest for those of us who are helping to provide thoughtful suggestions and ideas about how to build a more diverse and inclusive society where all citizens feel valued, respected and included.

So several questions come to mind as I think of him.

How do we define and think about diversity in a world that is becoming increasingly global, diverse, and inclusive? Do we think:

  1. That diversity is just a commodity and that we should focus just on numbers, representation and participation?

  2. Do we think of it as part of providing opportunity for all in a balanced and equitable way? Whether this be in education, jobs, health care, housing, and other areas of our daily life?

  3. Do we see diversity as a value that should be built into our behaviors, relationships and commitment in the norms and principles by which we govern our schools, businesses, and communities?

  4. Do we see diversity as a "threat" to be contained, minimized and ignored when it conflicts with our narrower view of who should be included in our societies, in our workforces, in our schools, and communities.

Our individual and collective views of our nation, our institutions, workforces, and communities must "reckon" with our growing diversity. We must examine who should be at "the table" and deepen our understanding of why they should be there.

I believe that diversity is about assuring equitable representation, it is about ensuring that all are given equitable opportunity to live, learn and work in our society; I also believe that it is a value and should be integrated into our work systems, our pedagogy, and our theories of leadership if we are truly to be a nation for all, including immigrants. Diversity is not something to be feared or disrespected, it is something to be embraced and welcomed.

Clearly, the sustainability of our communities and nation, and the world, depends on our getting this right. Diversity is not about genocide, it is about the 21st century and its a inclusive world for more and more people as we become more interdependent and interconnected.

The ball is in each of our hands.