One Reason Why Diversity Matters To You
By Calvin McDaniel
The recent racially charged events on campus have created a lot of conversation and buzz around the topic of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). In our diverse world, it is not uncommon for people to hear about that concept often, but what does it really mean? Diversity comes in many different forms: gender, race, age, sexual orientation, immigration status, socio-economic status, etc. Spartans Helping Spartans is all about giving MSU alumni tools to make their job search, career, and life as efficient and successful as possible. Embracing D&I can not only make your life richer and more fulfilling, but it will also assist in building your career.
What better way to increase your network other than to deliberately connect yourself with people who are different than you. Think about it, if everyone in your network is just like you then chances are you will know the same kinds of people, with the same education, who think the same, that work in the same profession. How are you possibly going to gather new sources of information if everyone you know gets theirs from the same place? How much will it benefit you to build a network of people who are of a different race than you, from another country, who are from different walks of life, who attended different school, and who work in fields that seem completely unrelated than yours? By intentionally working to build diverse relationships, you will instantly increase the span of your social and professional network. Remember it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know. So having a diverse network of personal and professional relationships can dramatically assist in your job search!
Let’s say you’re out there already working in a profession and you’re not looking for a job right now. You might not think this applies to you. Well, look at it this way; if you’re in charge of managing a department and you also have a say in hiring and training, then you can benefit from D & I. If the candidates you choose typically have similar backgrounds, are positioned in the same socio-economic status and have the same education then you could be limiting the potential success of your teams. Teams that are diverse typically perform better, are more creative, have more varied thought processes, varied attitudes and richer culture. The more people are different, the more you will get different points of view and help in problem solving situations! Having a diverse workforce will not only benefit your team’s performance, but it can also help drive business results and potentially make money for the company. How? If your employees don’t look like, think like, or understand your customers how comfortable do you think they are going to be in assuming that you have their best interests at heart? Would you want to do business with somebody who doesn’t really care about your needs?
Please don’t misunderstand me. You will reap the benefits of being sensitive to diversity and inclusion, but that is not my point. To truly be diverse and inclusive, one must GENIUNELY value diversity and inclusion. Being authentic and sincere is the only real way to really experience what true diversity has to offer. Once you start to be accepting and inclusive of others that are different, then you will see the world outside with a “different set of glasses.” You will notice that you will be more open-minded, you will think outside the box, and you will evolve and change as a person. In short, as your world view expands, so will your opportunities.
So just give it a shot. Try talking to somebody you normally wouldn’t, befriend somebody who isn’t from your immediate “circle”, and attend a social event that you aren’t comfortable and watch what happens.
Calvin McDaniel is an Alumni Career Services Assistant in the MSUAA and a graduate student in the Human Resource and Labor Relations program at MSU. He has a passion for helping people to reduce conflict, manage change, and grow toward their potential.