Stephen Zack is determined that the American Bar Association (ABA) does not give in to ‘diversity fatigue.’ Zack is the first Hispanic president of the American Bar Association in its 150 years. Not surprisingly, Zack has an ongoing passion for both the law and for the issue of diversity. Recent census numbers underscores Zack’s insistence that the U.S. legal profession to become more diverse. One in six Americans is now of Hispanic heritage; the Asian-American population has more than doubled in the last 10 years. But the increasingly multiracial American population is not yet accurately reflected in the U.S. legal system even though lawyers and judges should represent the community they serve. The ABA formed the first-ever Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities to address the disparity.
It would be dull if we didn’t have differences.
If we were all alike, that would be a shame.
How terribly boring the world would be, if we were all the same.
Coming from a diverse background, I have always had an interest in diversity and thought about it holistically. From a very young age I was very passionate about diversity and wanted to take in as much knowledge as I could about it. I recall speaking to various elders about the topic; some were family members, many were family friends and acquaintances. They spoke of the changes that were inevitable and only a matter of time. When an individual comes from a diverse background they tend to be more aware and in tune with diversity. That is not to say they are more knowledgeable about the topic than someone that is not from a diverse background, but they sense the emerging trends.
California was the first state to pass a law requiring health, dental and specialty insurance companies to provide translators “at least by phone,” ALTA.com reported in January. The bill gave insurance companies until January 1st to make these adjustments. Although this new policy will provide services to fill the diversity needs of people with Low English Proficiency (LEP), some object that insurance companies have found a new justification for outrageous billing prices. Could these cultural brokers be another example of additional costs in the age of diversity?
Most people don’t change, or willingly go along with change, because the change is “the right thing to do.” They do it if there is an important reason to change. Businesses don’t change their corporate cultures so that they retain women because doing so is nice for women. They do it if there is a compelling business reason to do so. The bottom line reasons to achieve gender diversity in leadership are exactly that—compelling.
In my last article for American Diversity Report, “Embrace Diversity, Embrace the Future”, I used the example of Zanzibar and how the people there appeared to deal with diversity by accepting differences of other cultures including religion without co-mingling or requiring others to bend to the will of any one group. However, since my visit there and writing that article, I have discovered that more recently, Muslim youth riding on motorcycles threw acid on the faces and bodies of three American young females who were walking through the streets of Zanzibar on their last evening in the city. The girls were at the end of their mission to help out in the area and were going to celebrate their stay there. They will forever be scarred both emotionally and physically by this experience. This example simply shows how fragile our cultural stability is as mobility of the world’s people increases at a rapid pace and the introduction of new ideas, ways and cultures are seen as a threat to the old established ways.
I think many people are tired of the diversity issues percolating and re-circulating in the workplace, marketplace, and society-at-large, but way too many people just don’t realize that these diversity and inclusion issues are going unacknowledged, unresolved and “will come back over and over again.” The question is not should we fear diversity fatigue but why are so many people so fatigued?
This is not an article about the world situation. That the situation in the world is bad, one only has to read in the newspapers, or to look at television, or to scrounge through the Internet. Some things are tragically wrong in our societies; communication techniques have failed among the different cultures, and understanding or agreement among the countries is practically zilch. So, this article writer does not intend to rain down hell, fire, and brimstone about what every country is doing wrong. Judgment will come but not from me.
Here are three no-cost, very simple diversity management practices you can begin today. You may think that these are so obvious, you don’t need to be told, but I want you to be aware of whether or not you practice these with people who are very different than you, or who you don’t know. It’s easy to greet the same people every day, however, I’m suggesting you move out of your comfort zone. You’ll rapidly notice your comfort zone expanding as well as employee participation and creativity.
25 Traits of a Diverse Organization:
1- Everyone is seen, as part of the organization’s diversity and the goal is to make everyone’s needs and concerns a part of the mainstream diversity effort.