Issues

5 Essays About Diversity

Many see “diversity” as an empty buzzword. It’s only empty when it isn’t truly engaged with. In basic terms, diversity encompasses traits that make people unique from one another. This includes race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, and more. A “diverse” environment is one where differences are welcomed, respected, and appreciated. Here are five essays that expand on the concept of diversity:

“How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” (2017) – Dr. Katherine W. Phillips

Diversity is a hot topic these days. What are the benefits? In this article, Katherine Phillips explores how diversity fuels innovation, creativity, better problem-solving, and more. Decades of research support this. That doesn’t mean diversity is easy. Research also shows that social diversity within a group can cause discomfort. Communication and trust can be more challenging. It’s still worth it. Phillips compares the painful parts of diversity with the pain of exercise. After a good workout, you may be sore, but continuing to exercise is the only way to strengthen and grow your muscles. Diversity works the same way.

Scientific American originally published this article in 2014. The version on Greater Good Magazine was revised and updated. Dr. Phillips was the Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics Management at Columbia Business School. She passed away in January 2020.

“Why Diversity Matters” -Ruchika Tulshyan

Many companies are embracing diversity and inclusion. At the same time, this shift makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Some even argue against diversity. In this essay, Ruchika Tulshyan breaks down why diversity is so valuable to the business world. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion is necessary to draw in – and keep – the best talent. It also results in better products and better customer service. When it’s actively embraced and engaged with, diversity is hard. It’s also important if companies want to evolve and thrive.

Ruchika Tulshyan is the founder of Candour, an inclusion communications and strategy firm. She’s also the author of “The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace.” She’s covered leadership and diversity for Forbes and written pieces for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Time, and more.

“Diversity in publishing – still hideously middle-class and white?” (2017) – Arifa Akbar

This essay opens on an incident in 2015. The British publishing world was accused of lack of diversity based on literary festivals and prize nominations. Book list after book list came out, all with only white authors. Did they correct the course? Arifa Akbar describes some initiatives that the publishing industry tried. The only way to achieve systemic change, however, is for inclusivity to reach the top. This isn’t for the benefit of authors. Those excluded find smaller presses or even start their own. Traditional publishing needs diversity if it hopes to appeal to the next generation.

Arifa Akbar is the Guardian’s chief theatre critic. She also worked at the Independent for 15 years as a news reporter and then as an arts correspondent and literary editor.

“Diversity in STEM: What It Is and Why It Matters” (2014) – Dr. Kenneth Gibbs Jr.

An older piece from 2014, this article brings up points that are still important today. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a highly-innovative field. It produces research and inventions that touch every part of society. However, when it comes to diversity in this field, there’s disagreement. Kenneth Gibbs Jr. explores what “diversity” means and why it matters in science. Benefits include excellence within research teams and better talent.

Kenneth Gibbs Jr. is a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. He works on policy-relevant research that strengthens the research enterprise. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Postdoctoral Association.

“Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?” (2018) – Claire Cain Miller

Diversity within the workplace is much-discussed, but what about the classroom? In this article from the New York Times, Claire Cain Miller takes a closer look at the effects of diversity. Research shows that male students in particular benefit when teachers share their gender or race. Digging deeper into that, black boys are also more affected by poverty and racism. On the other side of things, role models and high-quality schooling have a significant, positive impact. Most teachers today are white women. Research implies that more diverse teachers would benefit a classroom. In the meantime, schools can train their teachers about bias and stereotypes.

Claire Cain Miller joined The Times in 2008. With a team, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service by reporting on workplace sexual harassment. She writes about families, gender, and the future of work for The Upshot.

About the author

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Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.