What is Diversity?

Concept of Diversity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.

It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.

It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

What is Diversity?

  • Diversity is more than race and gender – it also includes differences in backgrounds and experiences, both within and outside the Navy.
  • It is not about removing barriers for some. It’s about creating opportunity for all. To that end, understanding future demographics builds the business case for diversity.
  • It is imperative that our future military reflects this country’s demographics so we will retain our nation’s confidence and support.
  • Diversity" means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating differences. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:
    • Understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
    • Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.
  • Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;
  • Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;
  • Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences. Finally, we acknowledge that categories of difference are not always fixed but also can be fluid, we respect individual rights to self-identification, and we recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another.

Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Gerry Hoewing Definition of Diversity

Diversity refers to the collection of individual qualities that reflect a person’s fundamental nature and contribute to his/her effectiveness, to include race, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, talents, age, creativity and socio-economic background.

"Diversity is not just another word for equal opportunity, though that is clearly still a priority for us. Today, it needs to be about much more. It needs to be about the incredible power of the new and different ideas that come naturally from the attributes our people bring with them from society."

Desired Effects

  • Diversity principles are exhibited by Leadership at all levels
  • Cross-cultural mentoring relationships are the norm
  • People are treated with dignity and respect, encouraged to lead, and are empowered to reach their full potential
  • PACFLT represents and optimizes the strength of the region’s/nation’s diversity
  • Operational needs of the future are met, utilizing a talented and diverse workforce

Basic Assumptions

  • Diversity goes well beyond race & gender
  • Everyone is diverse
  • Our diversity profiles impact our life experiences, perceptions, values and expectations
  • Diversity dimensions are both visible and invisible

Dimensions of Diversity

  • Primary:
    • At the Core of our social identities
    • Powerful throughout our lives
  • Secondary:
    • Often as Powerful but More Mutable

Our Diversity Profiles

  • Everyone has a unique profile
  • Everyone is managing her/his diversity all the time
  • Often it is the invisible dimensions that concern us most
  • We are more aware of those dimensions requiring our active/continuous attention

Dimensions of Diversity

  • Shape Our World View
  • Source of Pride & Self-Esteem
  • Impact Team Performance*
    • Drive Creativity & Innovation
    • Can Trigger Cross-Cultural Conflict & Disengagement
*See The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools & Societies by Scott E. Page, ?2007. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Why Care?

  • Increased Competition for Top Talent
  • Coming Boomer Exodus
  • Common Desire to Be Recognized for “Who I Am”
  • Diversity Drives Innovation
  • America’s NAVY = Increasingly Multicultural
  • Need for Increased Multi-Cultural Literacy

Social Conditioning

  • As humans, we are very susceptible to conditioning
  • As children, we unconditionally absorb teachings & beliefs of elders, authority figures, etc.
  • We notice their “music” as well as their words


Exaggerated beliefs or fixed ideas about various groups of people that distort, devalue, or overstate particular qualities.

These fixed ideas or biases are sustained by selective perceiving and selective forgetting.

Diversity & You

  • Multicultural Ambassadors Recognize the Diversity Around Them
  • Are Aware of Their Personal Filters & Biases & Actively Manage These
  • Are Able to Reach Out Across Cultural Boundaries
  • Have Diverse Social Networks

Common Stereotypes

Two Types of Dialogue

  • Objective: Evaluate Input
  • Style: Competitive, Judgmental
  • Starting Assumption:
    Accept nothing at face value
  • Actions: Evaluate, Challenge, Judge, Rebut, Demand Evidence/Proof
  • Outcomes: Suspicion, debate, withdrawal


  • Objective: Learn, Understand
  • Style: Open, Neutral, Curious
  • Starting Assumption:
    Accept as true & real for giver
  • Actions: Listen for Story, Suspend Judgment, Assume the Best
  • Outcomes: Increased trust, dialogue, unfolding of story

Employee Engagement

What Is It? What’s the Link to Diversity?

Gallup Research

  • Data gathered over 10+ years
  • Sample size = 5+ Million
  • Public & private sectors included
  • Two questions:
    • What Makes a Great Place to Work?
    • What factors influence retention and productivity?

Defining Employee Engagement

Key Findings: 3 Categories of Engagement

  • Engaged:
    Committed to their work and organization; drive innovation; initiators of new ideas
  • Not Engaged:
    Just putting in their time; limited energy & enthusiasm for what they do; sleepwalkers
  • Actively Disengaged:
    Act out frustrations, sabotage others’ efforts
From: First Break All the Rules by Buckingham & Coffman, ? 1999, Simon & Schuster, New York.


3 Categories of Engagement

  • Engaged: 29%
    Are committed to their work and organization; drive innovation; initiators of new ideas, 25% more productive
  • Not Engaged: 54%
    Are putting in their time; limited energy and little enthusiasm for what they do; sleepwalkers
  • Actively Disengaged: 17%
    Act out frustrations, would like to fire the boss, sabotage others’ efforts
  • From: First Break All the Rules by Buckingham & Coffman, ? 1999, Simon & Schuster, New York.