Diversity is a word commonly heard and known to be applied in various fields of endeavor. It has been the subject of various studies and has been revealed to be widely encompassing. Diversity, in its simplest definition, means a condition of variedness. A more comprehensive definition of diversity is provided by the Office of the Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity of the Texas A & M University as “the inclusion, welcome, and support of individuals from all groups, encompassing the various characteristics of persons in our community. The characteristics can include, but are not limited to: age, background, citizenship, disability, education, ethnicity, family status, gender, gender identity/expression, geographical location, language, military experience, political views, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and work experience” .
As such, when one explores the subject of cultural, racial or ethnic diversity, the focus is on respecting disparities in beliefs, traditions, and value systems commonly shared by a community of people. The UNESCO defines this as “the co-existence of a difference in behaviour, traditions and customs -in short, a diversity of cultures” (par. 3). Thus, the United States has been famous for embracing cultural diversity through accepting migrants from different international countries. Closely related to cultural, ethnic, or racial diversity is religious affiliations which are identified according to culture and traditions. Through freedom and respect for personal expression and the adherence to abide by the declaration of human rights, cultural diversity allows people to continue practicing what they believe in, as handed down from one generation to another; yet, be able to adapt and adjust to the demands of a new culture.
Diversity in gender is clearly expounded as “a term that recognizes that many peoples' preferences and self-expression fall outside commonly understood gender norms” . The traditional understanding of gender strictly confines the meaning of the term to only two gender classifications: male or female. However, through gender diversity, contemporary societies acknowledge that there are different sexual orientations which eventually evolved into transgender: straight (male or female); gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Likewise, for people with disabilities, diversity is also all-embracing. Disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Specifically, a qualified individual with a disability is someone who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation” . Therefore, there are different disabilities that could range from impairment of the senses, to physical or even mental disabilities.
Diversity in demographic factors include people living in different geographic locations, people from varied age groups, educational backgrounds, family status, income level or even socio-economic levels. Finally, different work settings have openly promoted diversity in their work places. Different studies have asserted that supporting diversity is beneficial in terms of soliciting different points of views and perspectives that could allegedly contribute more in terms of gathering innovative and creative insights. Overall, the exploration of diversity has acknowledged that it encompasses a lot of facets in life. But, more than focusing on the disparate elements, diversity acknowledges the importance of according respect and the freedom for people to act and behave according to the traditional norm, personal or cultural beliefs; but within universally known and accepted ethical, moral, and standards.
"Disability Diversity in Society." 24 May 2010. Disabled World. http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/diversity.php. 1 July 2013.
Texas A & M University. "Diversity: A Definition." 2012. diversity.tamu.edu. http://diversity.tamu.edu/whatsdiversity/definition.aspx. 1 July 2013.
"Understanding Gender." 2013. Gender Spectrum. https://www.genderspectrum.org/understanding-gender. 1 July 2013.
UNESCO. "Cultural Diversity." 2012. unesco.org. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/international-migration/glossary/cultural-diversity/. 1 July 2013.