*IMO | Diversity And Inclusion Makes Us Smarter!
OK, let's face it - diversity can be really be a complex subject to understand and for many, it can be downright difficult and even challenging in all sorts of environments and situations - but it doesn't have to be.
Here in the United States of America, at the State level of Government in Arkansas (to be more specific) the dialogue related to diversity and inclusion has recently shifted in the other direction in such an extreme way that it caused some widespread anxiety and conflict.
In January 2023, the Arkansas Senate approved legislation restricting the locations of drag shows by classifying them the same way as strip clubs and adult theaters, despite criticism that the move was overly broad and discriminates against the LGBTQ community.
The State's majority-Republican Senate approved the bill on a 29-6 party line vote, with all six of the chamber’s Democrats opposing. Fast forward to now - fortunately, drag was struck from the bill in the House and it's now behind us.
While this was certainly unsettling and disturbing as news of this was bustling about the State, it got me thinking and when that starts to happen, blog-posting usually follows.
Welcome, my friends, to this edition of *IMO - in my opinion. This particular post explains, in my personal opinion, how diversity makes us smarter.
Long before the events involving George Floyd, the subject of diversity and inclusion has been a hot topic on so many fronts. Rosa Parks on a bus in Alabama. Feuds between church and state. Stonewall in NYC. Corporations spending billions of dollars to attract and manage diversity. Supreme Court justices in disagreements over the virtues of diversity. Even political satire comedy shows, like The Daily Show (back when John Stewart was the host) found many an opportunity to parody the stupidity of it all.
All across America there is some change happening (albeit very slow) in senior leadership 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.
Here in our radically inclusive little Arkansan hamlet - Eureka Springs - we too, have to jump our own hurdles around the subject of diversity and inclusion, especially when legislation restricting the locations of drag shows hits the scene.
Regardless, the core of our culture all over Eureka Springs is this - Eurekans know that real unity is what you get when a lot of very diverse people to come together to form one complex yet seamless whole known as true community.
Here in Eureka Springs we know that diversity and inclusion does us good. So good in fact, we choose to arrange, plan, organize, volunteer and participate in three (yep, I said 3!) diversity focused weekends per year - in Spring, Summer and Fall.
Our community chooses to celebrate ALL people.
Sure! In our society, far and wide, year over year, we've seen how diversity can bring discomfort, rough interactions, a lack of trust, greater perceived interpersonal conflict, lower communication, less cohesion, disrespect, and even death (as in the George Floyd incident) but please allow me this opportunity to explain further all the good that comes from diversity.
There is an upside to our thriving environment because of inclusion and the diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. What is that upside?
Well, in my opinion . . .
Eureka Springs embraces the bringing in of varying backgrounds, skill sets and experiences because we know that by doing so we will be more likely to live in harmony, come up with more innovative/creative ideas to grow, evolve and foster a comfortable, welcoming culture of true community where everyone is included and valued for what makes them unique.
2500 unique people live here and that allows for better brainstorming with different ways of thinking at the table. Sure, there's conflict at times, but it's the thriving that envigorates us forward.
Research has shown that diversity in environments:
leads to greater innovation.
makes it easier to recruit top talent.
customers respond to diversity.
it boosts engagement on so many levels - personally, professionally, socially and more.
it offers new, different, fresh perspectives.
makes our community more innovative and creative.
increases our collaborative life experience as residents and visitors as we all live and work together to drive results, help each other earn profits, reap benefits and thrive!
Everyone that knows Eureka Springs knows that Eureka Springs is a very creative community. Founded and named on July 4, 1879, The City of Eureka Springs, Arkansas has welcomed visitors for decades upon decades and is known today for many different things - our incredible (well-reserved) architecture, events, history, antiques & shopping, the great outdoors, ghost stories, shopping and (originally) the spring water.
Today, Eureka's arts community is huge and continues to evolve and grow. Musicians, artists, sculptors, actors, writers, culinarians, bakers, creative wedding and event planners, photographers, designers, shopkeepers - you name it, this town knows that diversity and inclusion enhances creativity.
As many of you who know me know that I reside in Eureka Springs, my "day job" is Corporate Human Resources and I am also a member of the LGBTQIA+ Community. I can tell you first hand that in a professional setting, when people from all walks of life are brought together to collaborate and solve problems, they bring different information, opinions, and perspectives. This is a very important key to understanding the positive influence of diversity and inclusion.
In business, we call this concept informational diversity.
I think that this makes obvious sense. People who are different from one another in race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and other dimensions bring unique information and experiences to bear on the task at hand. A male and a female engineer might have perspectives as different from one another as an engineer and a physicist—and that is a good thing.
“We need diversity if we are to change, grow, and innovate.” ―Dr. Katherine W. Phillips
Research on large, innovative organizations has shown repeatedly that this is the case. They measured “innovation intensity” through the ratio of research and development expenses to assets. They found that companies that prioritized innovation saw greater financial gains when women were part of the top leadership ranks.
One of my favorite books, and one that I have lived by as a white-collar gay male Corporate Human Resources Executive is The G Quotient, by Kirk Snyder.
Based on his landmark five-year study, Snyder's book redefines successful leadership for ALL managers and I have recommended this book to many types of managers (not just other white-collar gay males) over the years.
At the time of his study, Snyder discovered that organizations and working units under the leadership of white-collar gay males were collectively experiencing 35% higher levels of employee engagement, job satisfaction, and workplace morale in addition to reporting greater employer loyalty and individual productivity.
Truth be known, racial diversity can deliver similar benefits.
In a 2003 study, executives at 177 national banks took part in a study. Professor Orlando Richard*, led the study, and when it was finished, he put together a database comparing financial performance, racial diversity, and the emphasis the bank presidents put on innovation.
The results were astounding! For innovation-focused banks, the increases in racial diversity were clearly related to enhanced financial performance. *Note: Richard was a professor at The University of Texas at Dallas.
So, the findings are clear - for groups that value innovation and new ideas, the groups with racial diversity significantly outperform groups with no racial diversity.
This is not wishful thinking people, it's proven fact.
Diversity and inclusion makes us smarter.
The moral: Studies have proven that when we hear dissenting opinions or information from someone who is different from us, it provokes more thought than when it comes from someone who is more like us.
Diversity and inclusion encourages the search for novel information and different perspectives. It leads to much better decision making and favorable problem solving. Diversity and inclusion improves the bottom line of companies and leads to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations.
Eureka Springs changes people. Vistors tell us this all the time. Locals often tell their stories of how "something clicked" and they just had to reside here.
Our world is a big place, and there is a lot of variety out there and that is a good thing, but everyone needs a little dose of what we get here every day in Eureka Springs because even simply being exposed to diversity and inclusion can change the way you think.
It's my hope that if you got this far reading this post, that you, too, will stop and realize - there are big reasons why variety is the spice of life. The melting pot that is Eureka Springs is the magic that tugs people to Eureka Springs and back again. Eurekans are proud to be that magic.
We don't just think or just talk this culture into existence each day, we live, act and breathe this. We walk the talk. We take action. We participate. We volunteer. We get involved in our community. We do our part. We ARE the change we wish to see in the world.
Eureka Springs has so much to offer but it is each and every unique Eurekan that makes this place so special to all who visit, reside and journey here.
Well, that's my opinion.
Our next Diversity Weekend Celebration will take place From April 7 - 9, 2023.
Learn more here! Come visit our Eureka Springs, beautiful you!
*IMO is a blog-series where I, John-Michael Scurio, express my own personal opinion about some subject or situation. "But what about the opinions of others?" people ask. "Yeah, that!" I reply,"Well, this specific blog-series isn't about other opinions - just mine. If I opened it all up to other opinions, I'd need to change the acronym (*IMO) to something else and it probably wouldn't feel as cool, but, hey, that's also just my opinion."
Do you want me to write and *IMO blog-post about something new? Tell me about it: email@example.com
Please take a moment to check out the different posts in this particular blog series on www.iloveureka.com