I recently read an article at WSJ.com titled The Death of Diversity and it prompted me to think about the basic premise of diversity. I was one of the so called “diversity trainers” for a number of years while working for a fortune 500 company. During my tenure, it became increasingly clear that in an era of globalization, expanding international markets and rapidly changing demographics, this generation shouldn’t even have to make a case for diversity. But unfortunately, the conversation has to continue as there’s still work to be done.
The WSJ article points to research conducted by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam. His researchers did 30,000 interviews in 41 U.S. communities and found that people in ethnically diverse settings don’t want to have much of anything to do with each other. “Social capital” erodes. Diversity has a downside.
I’ll agree that the study is thought provoking and suitable for a debate and further research but I disagree with its conclusion. Even Robert Putnam suggests that social identity is something that is constantly evolving and we’re always redefining ourselves and our communities. We’re not just ethnic groups; we’re suburbanites and downtown dwellers, white-collar professionals and blue-collar workers etc. We all have a fresh perspective to bring to the table. Let’s continue to engage each other in discourse that promotes and accepts our differences while seeking to improve our human condition.