By Pamela Arnold
Frequently, I receive letters and calls of request for assistance and input from students performing research on diversity. The requests come from all educational levels and confirm the need for continuous learning in the diversity field. Last week, I received two requests on the same day for information on a similar topic—the “beloved community” vision that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote and spoke about. The students wanted to better understand what the “beloved community” is and how do we build this community.
While preparing my responses, I started thinking about the opportunities we have in the twenty-first century to move closer to achieving the beloved community that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. discussed. The beloved community is when all perspectives are brought together in a collective effort to achieve goals for the common good. This community would be inclusive of all peoples and include various perspectives regardless of race, gender, class, ethnicity and all elements of diversity. In other words, creating and defining a culture of inclusion where ideas are exchanged, collaboration and innovation thrive, and communication flows amongst the stakeholders for a shared vision.
Our diversity and inclusion activities in organizations across industries confirm the common goal we all strive for in obtaining a beloved community. What does that look like? As quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
We are all committed to making the “qualitative and quantitative” changes to engage all our citizenry, organizations and communities. A number of D&I programs, networks, and foundations exist to achieve this. The more challenging news is that we need to work together in a more cohesive approach to advance and better evaluate diversity work.
Our Road Map
In the book Global Literacies, researchers Patricia Digh, Marshall Singer, Carl Phillips, and Robert Rosen surveyed over 1,000 senior executives of seventy-eight companies about business leadership and national cultures. Based on the responses and feedback, they outlined five universal questions we can use to help create a sustainable roadmap for the D&I work needed to achieve the beloved community:
Where Are We Going?
• Improved business results
• Inclusive environment leveraging differences and similarities
• Engaged associates/students/citizenry
How Do We Get There?
• Strategic diversity management leadership competencies
• Alignment and inclusion to the business, including communication plans and strategies
• Technology—internet, social media, digital universe
• Education programs across all levels
What Resources Do We Need?
• Diversity capable leaders
• Stakeholder support
• Financial support
• CEO and board support
• Associate resource groups
How Do We Work Together?
• Strategic stakeholder alliances—internal and external
• Collaboration/partnerships across sectors and industries (corporate, academic, government, non-profit)
• Leveraging technology
How Do We Measure Ongoing Success?
• Metrics—surveys, feedback, focus groups
• Organizational cultural benchmarking surveys
• Measurement against stated outcomes
An ongoing assessment of our D&I work will keep us on target for reaching our goals. The key question of “where are we now” has to be a fundamental thread that is present at all times as we move our organizations to achieve Martin Luther King’s vision.
Alienus Non Diutiu
The Latin quote is posted at the entrance to Pixar University in Emeryville California. These three words, meaning “alone no longer” summarize an approach for our journey in the diversity field. Proactively and aggressively working together will move us collectively forward.
Pamela W. Arnold is President of the American Institute for Managing Diversity, Inc. The organization is a 501(c)(3) public interest non-profit dedicated to advancing diversity thought leadership through research, education, and public outreach.