Throughout 2010, I have been honored to co-chair the California Minority Counsel Program. CMCP is dedicated to the promotion of diversity and inclusion in California’s legal profession. (Check out CMCP at www.cmcp.org.) In my role as co-chair of the conference, I dreamt up this year’s theme: “The Beauty of Diversity.” With “beauty,” the focus is not on physical attractiveness. Instead, the message is that diversity is desired, advantageous, and magnificent. That’s a powerful lesson not just for the CMCP conference and the legal community, for the world in general.
For minorities growing up in America, it is easy to feel we don’t fit into “mainstream” visions of appeal, aspiration, and success. Many of us (me included) spent our younger lives trying to be more like the conventional crowd, always trying to fit in and be like everyone else. (And many of us spent our childhood with haircuts we would prefer to forever forget. I had the infamous “bowl” haircut sported by many an Asian-American child.)
But hopefully, we all learned one of life’s great lessons: diversity is beautiful. The differences in our racial, cultural and personal backgrounds are things to be celebrated. That is true in both our personal and professional lives. It took me a long time in my own life to realize that, but now I know it to be indisputably true. You win in life by being you . . . in all your unique and diverse splendor.
America still has a long way to go when it comes advancing the role of women, racial minorities, and LGBT persons in all aspects of society. But a good place for concrete change is in professional workplaces. That’s because career success create more diverse professionals who garner the respect of all their peers, who can influence greater change in their organizations, and who can be role models for the next generation.
And that’s why I proudly work with CMCP to advance diversity in the legal profession. And that’s why everyone, in whatever industry you call home, should help bring more inclusion into your respective professions. Rather than continuing to have just dialogue about diversity, companies and organization need to ways to translate belief for diversity into practical action.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I believe everyone, from all backgrounds, should behold the beauty of diversity.