Can you bring yourself to work?

When asked to speak at a diversity conference, I began to conduct background research to supplement my demographic data.  My research turned up an advertisement that I felt truly made the business case for diversity in all its categories.  Here it is:

When you left for work this morning, what did you leave behind?*

  • your opinions?
  • your background?
  • your earring?
  • your native language?
  • your real hairstyle?
  • your doubts?
  • your race?
  • your politics?
  • your ethnicity?
  • your gender?
  • your sexual orientation?
  • your uniqueness?
  • Yourself?????

A workplace can only be diverse if the people who work there can be themselves.

I thought about this ad when I read the results of a new CareerBuilder survey, released January 26, that reported 40-percent of workers polled said they feel that they don’t fit in with others in their office.

The survey of nearly 5,000 workers found more women (42 percent) than men (37 percent) reported that they feel they don’t always fit in with their cube mates.  These concerns were found to be highest in health care, sales and professional and business services, leisure/hospitality and information technology.

“Today’s workplace is made up of many different types of people and sometimes, behavior can come across as being crazy or inappropriate for the office,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, in a statement. “Communication is key to dealing with co-workers’ behavior that may be impacting your ability to produce good work.”

The companies that are thriving are the ones that can mix employees of different generations, racial and ethnic groups, sexual orientation, political persuasion and religion into a close functioning whole.  This is a great lesson for Data Driven Detroit—one that we are striving to achieve—but even more so for the City of Detroit and the Detroit region.  A common vision that is best for our area must be formed by the contributions of all.

As stated in The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson: “Find inspiration from fields and cultures other than your own – and dare to explore the connections.”