Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend Diversity Boot Camp, a presentation of the National Diversity Council and the Ohio Diversity Council, hosted at the Bob Evans Farms Corporate Offices.  It was a fascinating experience.  My goal, as a new Ohio Diversity Council Board member was to listen and learn.

I wanted to understand, what are the societal, business, and personal opportunities around diversity and inclusion?  What challenges are organizations trying to overcome?  I wondered, are people aware of the many different kinds of diversity or are we still stuck on race and gender?  What’s in the diversity toolbox and how are different companies using those tools to build a dynamic and inclusive workplace?

These questions and more were answered by the very diverse group at the event.  Among the 18 attendees were Boomers and Gen X-ers and Ys, people of African-American, European, Hispanic, and Asian heritage, skin colors ranging from very light to very dark, a member of the GLBT community, people from corporate America, education and city and state government.

Today, I am thankful for shared knowledge and experiences.

If you are wondering what diversity and inclusion are all about, here’s a starting point; the working definitions we used  from the “Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World,” (click the title to download) a report by Julie O’Mara and Alan Richter.

Diversity refers to the variety of differences and similarities/dimensions among people, such as gender, race/ethnicity, tribal/indigenous originas, age, culture, generation, religion, class/caste, language, education, geography, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, work style, work experience, job role and function, thinking style and personality type.

Inclusion refers to how diversity is leveraged to create a fair, equitable, healthy and high-performing organization or community where all individuals are respected, feel engaged and motivated, and their contributions toward meeting organizational and societal goals are valued.

Consider the above definitions and reflect on your workplace, organization, neighborhood and home.  Awareness is the first step toward knowledge.  From knowledge comes action.  And with action, who knows what might be possible? 

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