A couple weeks ago, our Belonging at HORNE steering committee invited the entire firm to partake in roundtable discussions in each office location. These roundtables focused on one-time discussions about a featured article that affects a different lens group. The first roundtable article was Diversity Is Useless Without Inclusivity. This article really resonated with Partner in Charge of Government Services, Neil Forbes, as he challenged the emptiness that can result from the overuse of the word diversity without action. Are you doing your part to ensure diversity doesn’t become empty in your world? Check out his full blog, first featured on In Service: Ideas to Help Gov't Agencies Affect Positive Change, below.
Odds are, you and I are different. We look different. We may worship differently. We probably like different food, different music, dress differently, live in different places, have different backgrounds and think differently. This is a simple fact of life.
Something that may make me different is that I’m honored to have served as an infantry soldier in the U.S. Army—both in South Korea and in the 82nd Airborne Division. My experience in active duty showed me that teams succeed when they have the same mission and vision—regardless of their background, culture or upbringing. We liked to say that our common bond was that we all “bleed green!”
Truth is, the fact that the world is made up of different people should not be any sort of revelation to anyone. If you take a look at many company websites or look at their literature, you’ll see that they claim to be “diverse.” It’s my observation that “diversity” has become a buzzword in every workplace, much like “transparency” or “customer-centric.”
You may be asking, “So what? Isn’t diversity a good thing?” I would suggest that the “so what” is that the overuse of words dilute their meaning. Diversity is defined as “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” Diversity, in its true meaning, is something that drives success. But, it’s also a word that shouldn’t be overused to make a point and it should be seen in practice rather than just stated on a website.
Diversity comes in many forms—gender, race, sexual orientation, the list goes on and on. If any company believes that they will be successful and grow in today’s world, then they must know that they need different opinions, ideas, and thoughts from people of every walk of life.
I truly believe that a company that places diversity as its primary goal but continues to focus on pointing out the differences in each person will fail. I refuse to walk around talking about how different I am because I believe that the truth of the matter is that I’m no different than the other men and women of different origins, orientations, and life perspectives that I work with daily. I am proud to work with people everyday who have the same goals – we want our Firm, our co-workers, our clients, and the communities we serve to succeed! That is what binds us together, working as one team, one direction.
When people spend their time highlighting their differences rather than focusing on the common goals that they want to achieve, “diversity” becomes more than a buzzword—it becomes a separating force that can destroy a team and an organization.
I also know that when I meet my creator, I will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people from all over the world. They will have looked different than me and even spoken a different earthly language than me. But, we will have had to same earthly goal—to glorify the Kingdom of God here on earth. I’m a part of a bigger team that doesn’t take pride in claiming differences but rather takes pride in serving.
Companies use buzzwords all the time to describe their culture. Sometimes it’s an accurate description and sometimes it isn't. I’m proud to be a part of a firm that knows we are imperfect, but one that works hard every day to be a unified team for the purpose of serving our clients beyond expectations. I also know that I’m a part of a team that looks and thinks differently—and it’s a fact that makes us all the better.
About the Author
Neil Forbes champions the government services team at HORNE as their partner in charge. He is a servant leader with a heart for people and compassion for the communities his team serves. His non-traditional path into public accounting brings energy and insights that make us better every day.