The irony is that despite the emphasis on diversity and the desire to promote an atmosphere of acceptance, companies and agencies are quite selective in the metrics and categories of diversity that are evaluated and prioritized. They are required by law to practice equal employment practices. However, this simply means that they cannot refuse to hire an individual based on characteristics protected by law (including race, gender, and religion).
Beyond that, employers can prefer some diversity characteristics over others. This is why race and gender are always evaluated in corporate responsibility reports and almost never political affiliations or religions. In other words, America is pursuing diversity, the question still remains however, what kind of diversity?
The evidence is clear that diversity in the workforce is beneficial in providing innovative solutions. However, despite the present emphasis on immutable characteristics such as race, the data suggests that diversity benefits primarily come from diversity of thought rather than the amount of pigment in one’s skin.
People who think differently approach problems differently. Therefore, people proposing the same exact solutions to a problem will be less likely if the group consists of people from different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view. Companies and agencies that incorporate a diversity strategy are 1.7 times more likely to find innovative solutions to their respective problems. Companies that diversify their workforce see 1.4 times more revenue. Decision-making is two times faster in diverse teams. The obvious reason for these types of statistics is that diversity of thought provides an atmosphere in which group-think is minimized.
This is why viewpoint diversity, such as political or religious diversity, are important in assessing government and corporate pursuits of diversity as a whole. Without these metrics, government and corporate elites have the opportunity to dictate not only how diverse their teams should be, but also what groups they desire to leave out or minimize based on religious or political viewpoints. Not only does this not promote true diversity but it strays dangerously close to promoting social group-think of one particular ideology.
People often advertise that diversity as a concept means that when someone comes into work, they should bring their whole selves. Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, said something quite interesting in that part of one’s whole self should be one’s religion, and that needs to be on the diversity radar: “If I can’t express my Christian faith in the workplace, [it’s] not a diverse workplace.” Promoting these ideals are required to ultimately promote true diversity. The problem is that the dominant view of diversity is defined by simply increasing minority representation. This is only one part of the puzzle of diversity and is short-sighted in scope to promote some alternative agenda. It is critical to cultivate an environment both inside government operations and in the corporate world to approach diversity in a way that dissuades the use of mechanical quotas: treating diversity as a quantity rather than a quality. Government policies that mandate such an approach to diversity discourage true diversity by viewing individuals in categories, rather than viewing them as individuals.