Diversity: Is It a Big Problem or a Personal Commitment?
Here at the Junior League of Oakland-East Bay, it is not a big problem, diversity among our members is growing; but it is something that we want to intentionally incorporate into our plans for the future. It’s one of our values and the leadership of the league wants to make it a personal commitment.
AJLI’s diversity value statement is: The Junior League welcomes all women who value our Mission. We are committed to inclusive environments of diverse individuals, organizations, and communities. Let’s look at these commitments.
We are committed to diverse organizations. As mentioned earlier, it’s a fact that better decisions come from teams with differing viewpoints, backgrounds, and ways of life. In a McKinsey Study, Companies with women and foreign nationals on executive boards on average generated 53% higher return on equity than comparable companies with lower diversity in leadership. So, in business diversity can lead to more innovation and higher earnings. In a study from Tufts, groups of blacks and whites serving on mock juries “deliberated longer, raised more facts about the case, and conducted broader deliberations” than white-only groups. The application here is to value diversity in discussion because it can help bring more details to light and lead to making better decisions. In a joint study among several top universities, such as Columbia and MIT, researchers concluded that the mere presence of ethnic diversity in decision-making groups changes the tenor of discussion. It “fosters greater scrutiny and more deliberate thinking, which can lead to better outcomes.” Interestingly enough, in a fourth study addressing the effects of pairing “newcomers” and “oldtimers”, the diverse groups felt less confident, but the outcomes were better. Diverse groups could even outperform very capable homogenous groups. All of this data, reinforces JLOEB leadership’s belief in and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
As a League, we are committed to inclusive environments. Being inclusive is not easy, but it’s easier when you are willing to embrace people in general. Working with others who are different helps us broaden our worldview and makes us better humans. The benefits of diversity are clear; diverse organizations show significantly better process and outcomes than those that are not diverse. And in the League, we desire to expand our opportunities for developing creative solutions for our membership and greater community. In turn, we want to create an environment that allows all members to be heard, share their knowledge, and use their skills.
We are committed to diverse individuals. By nature of our organization, we are women who seek to be more inclusive of, and integrated with, the communities we serve. But there is more we can do to bring additional diversity into our League. We will be looking through our draft strategic plan with a lens for diversity and inclusion. Our aim will be to incorporate D&I language into our vision and the strategic plan. Some possible areas for specific work in diversity and inclusion include new member recruitment, leadership, and marketing.