A question and exclamation mark of jigsaw puzzle pieces  

  1. For many people, the definition of diversity insinuates a problem. In reality, diversity is an opportunity for people to learn what they do not know about people who are different from them. Diversity strengthens classroom communities and the workforce. It is important to remember that the need for diversity training does not indicate that there is a problem with an organization.
  2. The definition of diversity includes more than just ethnic and racial issues. While ethnic and racial concerns are a large part of what a diversity curriculum might focus on, gender, sexuality, language and socioeconomic diversity also are important.
  3. Some teachers and employers feel that using a diversity curriculum is not their responsibility and is something that should be taught by parents or discussed in the home. However, teachers and employers play a significant role in ensuring that diversity is embraced in their communities. Otherwise, the resulting misunderstandings can jeopardize a harmonious atmosphere.
  4. Louise Derman-Sparks uses the phrase “tourist-multiculturalism” to describe incorporating a diversity curriculum that simply addresses culture. This approach to a curriculum is dictated by holidays or specific times of year such as Martin Luther King Day or Black History month. As Maya Angelou has remarked, we need to reach a point when Black History Month is no longer necessary because all Americans are a part of our education. “Tourist-multiculturalism” can trivialize a diversity curriculum by avoiding the true picture of the everyday life of people from different groups.
  5. Some people argue that we do not need diversity curriculum in schools and the workplace because America already acknowledges its cultural diversity. However, there are still many misinterpretations that lead to misunderstandings rooted in our differences. A strong diversity curriculum includes and values everyone’s voice.
  6. Many people feel the definition of diversity only covers race and gender. However, diversity is much broader than what many people typically perceive and includes disabilities, sexuality, class, language, etc.
  7. The definition of diversity is also sometimes mistakenly associated with exclusion. It is not about punishing one group or praising another. Understanding diversity through the use of an effective diversity curriculum is about creating a cohesive environment where students or employees can work more effectively and collaboratively.
  8. There is still confusion between the definitions of diversity and affirmative action. In actuality, the two are quite different. The biggest differences are that diversity is voluntary and opportunity focused while affirmative action is government initiated and problem focused.
  9. Sometimes it is assumed that it is counter-productive to incorporate a diversity curriculum into schools or the work environment. It is thought that focusing on differences might cause misunderstanding, but they key to remember is that diversity training should focus on the strengths in our differences and how those differences make us a stronger community.

Adapted from: Workforce America! By Marilyn Loden and Judy B. Rosene