Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflecting Diversity

Diversity Mural unveiling 2012
Diversity Mural at the Univ. of the Fraser Valley
In many different ways, our world today has us focusing on diversity - racial, ethnic, gender, language, and geographic.  We have people talking about the benefits of diversity, as well as people who want uniformity. Uniformity is comfortable and easy. Diversity of thought and opinion, which can create innovation, comes as a natural outgrowth of having a diverse group of people.

I believe that diversity is important.  In my position as the director of an academic program, the question that I often ask myself is:
How do we demonstrate that we value diversity and that it is important?
Often you will find text on an organization's web site that talks about valuing diversity. This is especially true if the web site contains job announcements.  If you're like me, you will also look at the photographs an organization uses as a way of deciding if diversity is important to them.  If those organizations understand that diversity is important to us, they should try help us see them as valuing diversity in order to make their organizations more attractive to us.

It is then amazing to me that organizations - that want and need to attract a diverse group of people often in order to have a large pool of prospective customers - show themselves as not being diverse. Pick up a conference brochure, a trade magazine, or promotional literature.  Does it in some way show that the organization behind it values diversity?  If not, how does that make you feel about the organization? Or if yes, how does that make you feel?

The question then becomes how to communicate those feelings to the organization, especially if their text, photos, etc. show that diversity is not important to them. That is my dilemma. How do I tell an organization - especially a library organization - that in our current environment where some want uniformity, it should show that it values diversity and reflect that value in everything it does?  I had hoped that the correct words would have come to me in 2016.  The societal actions in 2016 make me hope that the right words do emerge in 2017.

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