Have you ever looked around the room at a group of your friends and noticed that you all have a lot in common? I am not referring to how you look, though you and your friends may resemble, in this instance I am talking about the similarities in the way you see the world, the values you share, your backgrounds and shared experiences. According to research, this is not by coincidence; we are hard-wired to desire like-minded companions. In fact, the research goes on to say that “similarity is very useful, and people are attracted to it most of the time”. If we think about it, this is not really a surprise. We tend to be more comfortable, more trusting, and have more in common with those just like us.
The problem with this sort of thinking and conformity is that every time we limit our exposure, we lose the opportunity to stretch and grow. Whether you have the chance to meet someone from another ethnic group, someone far richer or poorer than you are, do it. The upside potential is huge. Embrace the idea; talking with others exposes us to differing points of view and cultural nuances.
Question the hypothesis about the value of diversity if you will, but having a broader sense of the world around, seeing the same problems from several points of view, understanding how other cultures and different economic strata process information and make decisions, is enriching. On the surface, my comments here may strike you as social commentary or an updated line from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. In part, you would be correct. Adding a little diversity to your life would probably improve your social life or at least infuse a little excitement (smiles). However, the real reason for advocating for diversity is directly related to helping our students prepare for success in a global economy.
In truth, diversity is all around; it is the norm. Those in the workforce now know that diversity is everywhere and those able to collaborate across racial, cultural and socioeconomic boundaries will be poised to lead America to our next, best years.