This month’s topic on diversity is of course near and dear to my heart. As a woman in our industry I have the pleasure of speaking out on this issue regularly. And it’s such an interesting conversation that we’ve been having, it seems like for so long. Yet we are still having the same conversation. We are still trying to come up with policies and associations and ways to bring diversity into our companies.
How are we not there yet is a question I’m constantly asking myself. So much so that several of us women put our money where our mouth is by starting NWIR. But that’s another article altogether.
Of course, all of us gravitate to like-minded people. We as humans surround ourselves with people that look like us and talk like us, people who like to do the same things and have the same opinions. Friends that are in the same groups. It goes on and on. We get into this human behavior of attraction to people that are similar to us. It’s comfortable. It’s easy. It doesn’t require much growth on our part. When we have meetings we even sit in the same seats day after day. Comfortability!
There are so many studies that show even facial features that are like our own or like our families draw our attention innately. People with the same sense of humor make us laugh and we want to spend time with them. People who drink the same wine or scotch - there’s a club for that too. Everyone who loves the same thing meet at the country club at 8. We surround ourselves with people that think like us. And largely that’s OK.
However, until we stop and ask ourselves: what are we missing? We don’t even know what we’re missing. Unless we open up the table to others who think differently, who look differently, who won’t always agree with our opinions, who sit in a different spot at the meeting, who come from different backgrounds, different education, have different insight from their own experiences to bring to the table. We miss out. We miss out. Yes, I said that twice. We’re not even conscience enough to know it at times that there is more out there that we haven’t even thought of. If there is something different than the way we do things in our work and in our lives, why wouldn’t we want to explore that?
So, the question brought to the table this month is “How do you create a company that embraces diversity?” I guess my simple answer to that is how do you NOT? How do our companies progress WITHOUT diversity? Diversity is what brings big ideas. New ideas our own minds haven’t even conjured up. Diversity is what brings change. Although change is hard it’s the only thing that brings true growth.
We are an industry that is changing and all of the markets that feed into our industry are changing more rapidly than ours. A company that does not bring everyone to the table from all walks of life is a company that is going to struggle to be embraced in the future.
Technology is changing. The face of our business is changing and all for the better. If we want to be successful in our industry we have to continue to raise professionalism, embracing our trade in the highest regard. Everyday. The only answer to that is: DIVERSITY at the table and in our field. Pushing ideas, trying new ways, handling situations different than you might, attracting new employees and embracing the future. So how can you NOT embrace diversity and flourish?
A good way to know if you are embracing diversity is: At your next meeting, look around the table.
Help is available.
Jennifer Stone is the Pacific, Preferred Account Manager, Roofing Systems at Johns Manville. See her full bio here.