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Diversity Must be Built from the Bottom Up of an Organization

Building diversity is everyone’s responsibility. The leader, whether a program manager, first line or middle manager, or executive, all play a part and need to welcome a wide range of input from other team members. Managers have to be willing to put in the time to recruit and nurture diverse employees. The biggest roadblock to the flow of qualified diverse leadership candidates is a lack of hiring and training at the entry level. Managers at all levels can be instrumental in driving transformation with every hiring decision. Finally, upper management has to set an example and create a culture that welcomes all types of employees for their ability to deliver bottom line results.

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female member of the U.S. Supreme Court, said, “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone … and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something.” From her appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to her retirement in 2006, she worked with an increasingly diverse court to act as the deciding vote on some of the highest profile cases the court faced, including Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that prohibited discrimination against troop leaders on the basis of sexual orientation.

So what is diversity in the context of today’s world – whether it is a nonprofit, a corporation, government, or any organization striving to make progress? Diversity requires reaching out to people of different races, genders, cultures, experience, personality, ages, sexual orientation and any other difference that is unique to an individual.  All aspects of diversity need to considered while building or changing an organization in order to create a dynamic, creative, high performing team.

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