Diversity Lessons from the Republican Presidential Race

1. Diversity is more than race and gender

The candidates remind us that there is more to diversity than race and gender.  A viewer could mistakenly watch the debate and think it is a homogenous group of people (Herman Cain exception noted) fighting to be president.  In fact, that is not the case.  Clearly, the majority of the participants are White male or female.  However, they are very diverse in many ways, including thought (problem solving and decision-making), background (geographic location, family structure), education (training and degrees), religion (Christian, Mormon), and demonstrated experience (public office, private sector experience, governance philosophy).  It is worth repeating that white males are diverse too!

2. Say What….Microinequities

 When Herman Cain won the Florida Straw Poll, it was presented as a “protest vote.”  I note that Mr. Cain is the only African-American currently running for the Republican nomination and I find it curious that his victory was framed a “protest vote.”  While many acknowledge that he has little chance of winning the nomination (and I’m not sure if that’s due to money, polling, or a general understanding of the Republican party, ) but is it too far-fetched to believe that Floridians liked what he had to say?  This is what we in the diversity business call a microinequity.  Micro-inequities and micro-affirmations were named by Mary Rowe, PhD of MIT in 1973 and have been described as subtle messages, perhaps unconscious, that minimize, devalue, and discourage performance.  I am sure Mr. Cain would disagree, but from D & I perspective, that is what it looks like.  It happens all too often in the workplace to women and minorities.

 3. Cast the Widest Net

 In the recruiting process, we are encouraged to cast the widest net to attract a broad, diverse pool of potential applicants.  Watching the debates made me wonder how broadly the candidates are casting their nets to reach a broad, diverse pool of potential voters.  If they expect to diversify the Republican Party, they need to reach out to diverse audiences and cast themselves as the “candidate of choice.”  Making the argument that one is the best of a sorry lot is not going to attract diverse voters.  (As we know, the best of a sorry lot, is still sorry….that’s an observation, not a judgment.)

 My thoughts are not political and I do not endorse any candidate.  These are my observations through my diversity lens!

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One thought on “Diversity Lessons from the Republican Presidential Race

  1. Thanks for sharing, Deborah. I watched Mr. Cain when he appeared earlier this week on one of the television network programs and he said that he won the Republican polls in Florida because of the message he has been delivering to voters. Regardless of what the “mainstream” media might say (“protest Vote”?), I agree with Mr. Cain said. Just my observation!

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