A community's commitment to diversity and inclusion, like our community in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is often evident through its various events, festivals, and community initiatives.
Any Eurekan, or frequent visitor to Eureka Springs for that matter, will tell you that our businesses, local organizations (i.e. Out In Eureka), innkeepers, shopkeepers, tourism office, Chamber of Commerce and residents all work together to foster a very diverse, very inclusive culture, making our Eureka Springs a welcoming place for people of ALL backgrounds.
Today, those backgrounds and the dimensions of diversity continue to expand.
“In the early days of diversity work, the definition was generally limited to race and gender and sometimes age,” says Lee Gardenswartz, Ph.D.
It is also worth noting that the primary focus on the specific dimensions of diversity often varies by region. For example, these days people in the US tend to focus on dimensions of race and gender identity, while in, say, the country of Turkey it’s more common to focus on education and age.
Regardless, navigating these ever-changing and ever-evolving definitions and accounting for the kaleidoscope of human experience is hard enough for leaders in workplaces the world over, so it certainly is no straightforward task in a small community like Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Add to this that at about two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, social and political turmoil spotlighted bias and discrimination issues that occur not only inside and outside of the workplace but in communities at large.
All across America there is some change happening (albeit very slow) in the various ranks of senior leaders running corporations and while we are starting to see more and more diversity rising to the top, leadership today in American business still remains predominantly straight, white and male.
Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) require strong leadership skills to effectively guide their organizations in meeting their strategic mission and goals. Every CEO leads in their own, unique management approach and as expected, some CEO leadership styles are more effective than others. It usually depends on the environment and industry. As a company’s highest-ranking executive, the CEO makes the major decisions that affect the business, establishing a company culture, managing operations, and allocating resources.
Most CEOs will execute within four major leadership styles:
Transformational - motivating & empowering people to drive change.
Authoritative - making strict decisions & implementing policies without much input from others.
Strategic - adapting in the face of change but remaining firm in protecting core values.
Affiliative - fostering a culture that inspires people & puts people first.
While all are important (and necessary at times) in their own right, many effective CEOs will maneuver through all four, as necessary. In this blog-post, we will spend more time on the last one - Affiliative - as that is best defined as fostering a culture that inspires people and puts people first. Maintains harmony and ensures that ALL people feel a sense of connection to not only the organization/initiative/community and the goals, but also to each other and to the diversity of thought that comes forward each day.
Eureka Springs leaders exhibit all four styles also but one thing is for certain, the most prominent style woven into the culture of our community is Affiliative.
Like many other parts of the United States, Eureka Springs has a diverse population representing various ethnic and racial backgrounds. While the majority of the population may be White, there are also communities of African Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, Native Americans, and individuals from other racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.
Eureka Springs has also long been recognized as a welcoming destination for the LGBTQ+ community. The city has a significant LGBTQ+ population and is known for its LGBTQ+-friendly businesses, events, and initiatives.
Eureka Springs is also home to various religious communities, including Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Baptist and other faiths. Additionally, the city is known for its eclectic mix of spiritual practices, attracting people seeking alternative and New Age beliefs. A 66-foot tall statue of Christ of the Ozarks and The Great Passion Play also play a big role in the culture here.
Eureka Springs is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world. Not only does this influx of tourists come from these various religious communities, but people from different interests (music, art, motorcycle events, etc.), backgrounds and countries come together to experience the city's unique charm and cultural diversity.
Eureka Springs has a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds, with residents ranging from low-income to affluent and the city's economy relies heavily on tourism, which can create economic disparities among its residents, at times.
Eureka Springs is home to a mix of age groups, from young families, to empty-nesters and mid-lifers to retirees. The city's laid-back atmosphere, scenic surroundings and proximity to "lake life" make it appealing to people from all ages - one to 92.
Like many places in the United States, Eureka Springs experiences a range of political, religious and ideological viewpoints. This diversity in perspectives can lead to robust community discussions and also robust debates. The Daily Show (back when John Stewart was the host) did a comical report on one battle between two different viewpoints.
Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion has numerous benefits:
Innovation and Creativity: Diverse teams bring together a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and problem-solving approaches. This diversity of thought fosters creativity and innovation, leading to better products, services, and solutions.
Better Decision-Making: Inclusive environments encourage open dialogue and constructive dissent, enabling organizations to make more informed and well-rounded decisions. Diverse perspectives challenge groupthink and prevent homogenous decision-making biases.
Attraction and Retention: Embracing diversity and fostering an inclusive culture helps attract top talent from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, people are more likely to stay with companies and communities that value and support their unique identities and experiences.
Market Relevance: In a globalized world, diverse societies and diverse consumer bases demand more inclusive products and services. Places that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion are better positioned to understand and meet the needs of their diverse customer base.
Social Cohesion: Emphasizing diversity and inclusion contributes to building a more harmonious and understanding society. It helps bridge divides, reduce discrimination, and create an environment where all individuals can participate and flourish.
Acknowledging and respecting the dimensions of diversity is an ethical imperative. It upholds the principles of fairness, justice, and equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds.
Eureka Springs is a unique city known for its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant community and it is a truly wonderful place to live. As our understanding of diversity continues to evolve, it is essential for corporations and for society to keep pace with these changes and embrace new dimensions such as intersectionality and political affiliation, both of which are now gaining much attention. By fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment, we can unlock the full potential of individuals, organizations, and our communities, creating a more just and prosperous future for everyone.
I am proud of my Eureka Springs for leading the way, in their own unique way -
in Arkansas, in America and globally.❤️