I like to write about and advocate for diversity and inclusion. But what diversity advocates often forget or ignore is the importance of emphasizing what we have in common, in addition to what makes us different.
The old-fashioned description I grew up with of America as a “melting pot” is seldom used today. I think the motivation for abandoning the term comes from the feeling that the melting pot metaphor meant a Borg-like assimilation.
But one of the things we lost when we stopped talking about America as a melting pot is the emphasis on our shared values and goals.
We need to be much more specific when we talk about diversity. When we say “diversity,” we should clarify that we mean “diversity of experiences and ideas.” This kind of diversity is additive, allowing us to find different solutions to our challenges that a more homogeneous group might overlook.
Hand-in-hand with talk of diversity, we should equally emphasize the shared values and goals that the diverse members of the group have in common.
If that group is a business, that means emphasizing the mission and culture. If that group is the United States of America, that means emphasizing the belief that all are create equal, and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If you truly believe in the power of diversity, celebrating what makes us different should be balanced by celebrating what we all share.