Updated: Sep 25, 2022
By: Dr. Dawn C. Reid
Two tragic mass shootings occurred on May 14th and 15th that appear to be racially motivated.
One shooter, an 18-year-old white male, wrote a manifesto offering his motivation for his attacks on May 14th. His belief was that minorities, immigrants and Jews were replacing the white race (Great Replacement Theory).
In the shooter's manifesto he asked about why diversity is important and how does it strengthen a nation.
The content of this article offers a response to which the shooter felt no one was able to answer. However, a quick internet search provides specific answers going back several years from different sources. This article refers to those sources to construct a response.
On May 14, 2022, a tragic mass shooting occurred in Buffalo, New York. The shooter killed 10 people who were identified as African American or Black, and injured three others. This shooting took place at a grocery store. On May 15 (the very next day), another shooting occurred in California, in which four out of five people who were killed were identified as Asian Americans. This event took place during a church luncheon after the service.
At the time of writing, there is little information on the motives of the second shooter. However, the first shooter was clear as to why he acted, as he left a detailed manifesto describing his motives. In summary, he feared the white race was being "replaced" and was losing power to immigrants, people of color, and Jewish people. In his manifesto, the shooter asked, "Why is diversity said to be our greatest strength... said throughout the media, spoken by politicians, educators, and celebrities. But no one ever seems to give a reason why. What gives a nation strength? And how does diversity increase that strength?” I would like to give my answer.
A quick internet search would yield dozens of reasons why diversity can be good, each stemming from studies done by Fortune 100 companies, Harvard, Stanford, an Army General, and from different scholars worldwide (Jonsen et al., 2021; O’Donovan, 2018). Behavioral science has a plethora of research in this area that offers validation supporting diversity, inclusion, and equity (Jonsen et al., 2021; O’Donovan, 2018; Ueno et al., 2020). With that said, it's true that no matter how much data something has in its favor, if someone refuses to listen, accept the information, or do their own research, the answer likely won't be satisfactory to them, no matter what anyone says. Nevertheless, I'll provide my own answer, with literature support, on the benefits of diversity.
Why is Diversity One of Our Greatest Strengths?
Diversity leads to innovation. Simply put, each one of us—due to how our minds are wired, our experiences, and our worldview—has a particular lens through which we see and analyze situations and others around us. Many organizations find that diversity of culture and diversity of thought promote innovation, allowing them to unearth ideas that execute new ways of thinking and behaving to build industry, products, and services (Bourke, 2018; Jonsen et al., 2021; O’Donovan, 2018).
Because of diversity, teams or communities can better problem-solve (Kaur & Arora, 2022). There are more minds who can see a situation from different perspectives and help minimize groupthink and biased conceptualization (Jonsen et al., 2021). Bias isn't just due to racial or social biases; it can come from simply having limited experience (Kaur & Arora, 2022; Ueno et al., 2020). For example, someone who is raised on a farm may have a different view than someone raised in a city. As such, when there are diversity of thought and people, it can help an organization better understand the impact of a policy or action on all people involved. Another of diversity's strengths is the assurance of equity. Like taxation with representation, you can ensure all voices are heard and share input on both the benefits and consequences of a decision. How can you create a policy or law without getting a wide range of input on its impact on the people it governs?
Diversity can also bring new markets—and new markets may mean more jobs, more profit, and expansion. In coaching, for example, the industry is always trying to show those whom coaching benefit. According to the ICF (2020), emerging markets are correlated with diversity in coaching and exploring where coaching is not being experienced. Likewise, in the ICFs Global Consumer Report (2020) and their Global Coaching Study (2020) diversity can improve experiences and the quality of life in untapped environments for diverse groups of people. In fact, there is a demand for better representation for different social groups, such as veterans, dads, men, and celebrities, or the African diaspora, according to their research over the years.
Finally, diversity is one of our greatest strengthens because it ensures we do not get caught up in groupthink or make decisions in silos (Marin, 2012). Again, it helps minimize one-sided, biased conceptualization that hurts us more than helps us. It’s not just about race, religion or other social dynamics but about being equitable, transparent and minimizing disproportionate experiences or realities where overrepresentation or underrepresentation is prevalent. In short, diversity helps decentralize power, resources and opportunities in the best interest for all beings.
What gives a nation strength? And how does diversity increase that strength?
A diverse nation tends to be democratic because all members have a vote, a voice, and a choice (Bednar, 2021). This creates both individual and collective accountability as we have a mutual stake in the nation's success and failures. As such, diversity can offer the chance for most members to have equal access to resources (Hendriks, 2021). It's not one person or one group ruling the nation. We can potentially create less waste, less civil strife and more cooperation, as implied by Jeff Man (2022). However, some studies may disagree. There is also the potential for civil war, a collapse in the social system and social chaos when the populous is heterogenous or no role distinctions exists (Ocampo, 2020). There is also the belief that not everyone deserves equal or fair access because the variance in presumed intelligence or capability would create an assumed wrong or unbeneficial approach (Laclau & Mouffe, 2014). As such, the warning or challenge with diversity is in disagreements. Diversity brings different views and opinions. We all see life from our own cultural lens. There may be some incompatibility with how to execute, or on what takes priority and even what is moral or ethical. From a cultural view, this could look differently depending on what group you feel most affinity with. Nonetheless, diversity shows more promise at making our nation stronger because, if done correctly, we create the potential for becoming many working on one accord and striving for the same goal.
That, in summary, is my answer. If anyone has a better response, I am open to dialog on it. Until then, I see diversity as a good thing, important and beneficial to everyone. Yes, it can feel scary, and some people may feel they will lose their power. However, I challenge you to look beyond your fears and see how diversity is progressive, brings innovation, and equity at a macro level.
Bednar, J. (2021). Polarization, diversity, and democratic robustness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(50), e2113843118.
Bourke, J. (2018). The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths. [Deloitte Review, Issue 22.] Retrieved from: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/deloitte-review/issue-22/diversity-and-inclusion-at-work-eight-powerful-truths.html?zd_source=hrt&zd_campaign=5328&zd_term=chiradeepbasumallick
International Coaching Federation (2020). ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study. Retrieved from: https://coachingfederation.org/research/consumer-awareness-study
Jonsen, K., Point, S., Kelan, E. K., & Grieble, A. (2021). Diversity and inclusion branding: a five-country comparison of corporate websites. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 32(3), 616-649.
Kaur, N., & Arora, P. (2020). Acknowledging gender diversity and inclusion as key to organizational growth: a review and trends. Journal of Critical Reviews, 7(6), 125-131.
Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (2014). Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics (Vol. 8). Verso Books.
Man, J. (2022). Why is Diversity Important? Retrieved from https://diversity.social/why-is-diversity-important/
Marin, H. G. (2012). Strength in Diversity. Retrieved from https://www.army.mil/article/19438/strength_in_diversity
Ocampo, Y. (2020). The Gospel of Bernie Sanders: Discourse Analysis for a Radical Democratic Politics.
O’Donovan, D. (2018). Diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management (pp. 73-108). Springer, Cham.
Ueno, K., Jackson, T. M., Ingram, R., Grace, J., & Šaras, E. D. (2020). Sexual minority young adults’ construction of workplace acceptance in the era of diversity and inclusion. Social Currents, 7(2), 91-108.