Earlier this week, our state made national news as Governor Christine Gregoire signed a measure into law legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington. Coincidentally, this news broke just days after I had attended a two-day Leadership Clark County session focused entirely on diversity and discrimination.
I don’t know whether you have been through a diversity course or not, but this was my first experience in one. And like most LCC sessions, I thought it was pretty eye opening.
Throughout the session, I began to think about all of the new ideas and new perspectives our society has gained as a result of diversity. This led me to recognize that the more we celebrate diversity, the more our community will benefit. After all, what better way to enhance our own potential?
The positives I attach to diversity all hold true when it comes to the business world. If you want to be effective in your business, you must be able to connect with and understand your customers. You must be able to think outside of the box. You must be able to adapt to ever-changing markets and the changing needs of your customers. For these reasons, it’s important to have a workforce that is as diverse as your client base.
Many of the companies right here in Washington state understand the importance and value of diversity. Read what Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel and executive vice president of the company’s legal & corporate affairs department, had to say about it in a recent blog post in support of his company’s pro-same-sex marriage stance:
“While some of our employees literally grew up around the corner, others have come from every state and almost 150 countries around the world. They reflect virtually every background in the country and on the planet. They bring their creativity to work, and they put it to good use in developing new products and serving our customers. There simply is no substitute for their diverse backgrounds, perspectives, skills and experiences.”
Smith went on to write:
“As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families.”
Of course celebrating our differences isn’t always easy. There is a wide range of views when it comes to certain diversity-related issues like same-sex marriage that must be respected. However, respect is not and should not be reserved for the majority.
We must move forward as a community that’s ready and willing to celebrate diversity. I believe we can, because at the end of the day it’s the right thing to do. And sometimes the right thing to do is also good for business.