I am participating in PRSSA’s “Progressions Writing Prompt” exercise for November 2014. To learn more, check out this post for details.
There is no singular image or word that comes to mind when I think of diversity — which makes sense, if you think about it.
Diversity can pertain to demographics, psychographics, experiences and more. I have to admit I didn’t grow up in the most diverse town (Colfax, Washington, if anyone is curious). Most people had not traveled far, came from similar families and seemed to have similar opinions.
When I went to college, I jumped out of my comfort zone 2,600 miles away. At first, I resisted diversity, instead searching for people who reminded me of my friends at home. But after I joined a sorority and PRSSA, I started meeting people who were not only different, but challenged me to think differently. Over the course of four years, I developed a diverse network.
If I could share one lesson with public relations students, it’s this: Having a diverse network and diverse background will help you socially and professionally.
Socially, diversity has given me some of the most interesting friends I could ask for. They challenge me to look at the world through a different lens, and they keep me trying and learning new things.
Professionally, embracing diversity has helped me and the teams I’m on advance quickly. As Golin CEO Fred Cook puts it, “If you expose yourself to unfamiliar people, places, and things, you expand the personal Internet inside your head.” Put a bunch of diverse people in a room, and that “Internet” gets even bigger.
As a leader, when I create teams, I look for people who will bring a wide range of perspectives. If you pool all those perspectives together, your team will be able to generate more creative ideas that reach a wider audience.
The more opportunities you have to gain diverse experiences, the better. Diversity enhances our profession and helps us creatively connect with stakeholders.