DIVERSITY HAS BECOME WATERED DOWN. The honest truth that business in this country has adopted an attitude of “hire a racial minority and we’ll be good.”

I almost don’t even want to use the word any more, but there’s something important I’ve learned. We need to talk about it.

We all gravitate toward people and groups which are similar to us. I think it’s a hardwired aspect of being human, perhaps based on how our primitive ancestors maintained stable communities.

I’d like to think that we’re trying to grow beyond that.

I had a conversation recently with someone I’m quite close to. We were talking about the injustice of kicking transgender individuals out of the military. I have to confess that I haven’t spent a lot of emotional energy on the topic, mostly because it’s out of my sphere of influence.

My friend, though, was highly emotional because he knows someone who is transgender. “So how am I supposed to be there for my friend, when I believe so strongly that this is wrong and unjust?”

That’s when I realized that my complacency was based on the fact that I don’t know anybody who is transgender. Well, perhaps someone is, but I don’t know it.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Contact leads to familiarity.
  • Familiarity leads to understanding.
  • Understanding leads to compassion.
  • And compassion leads to friendship.

Guess what?  This makes you a better person.

So the real reason we need to include all kinds of unfamiliar groups in our businesses isn’t because of government oversight. It’s not because people might protest and we’ll lose sales.

It’s because we want to each develop into compassionate, understanding people who are the best humans we can become.

And to help our people grow as well.