Education competencies: Valuing diversity

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success. View all competencies .


Manages all kinds and classes of people equitably; supports equal and fair treatment and opportunity for all; fosters a climate of inclusion, where diverse thoughts are freely shared and integrated.

Proficiency level

Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert
Able to work effectively with a diverse range of people Manages all kinds and all classes of people equitably Actively recruits people from diverse backgrounds to work together in groups Demonstrates an honest respect and appreciation for cultural diversity
Sees value in having a diverse population in the organization Deals effectively with all races, nationalities, cultures, disabilities, ages, and genders Supports fair treatment and equal opportunity for all and enforces that policy within his/her sphere of influence Incorporates consideration of all classes, races, nationalities, cultures, disabilities, and genders into organizational policy and promotions
Supports fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Includes everyone in extending opportunity for employment and advancement Provides programs to foster and enrich cultural understanding and promotes cross-cultural interaction Creates a climate that treats interface between diverse people and groups as the norm
Is receptive to diverse thoughts and alternative perspectives, and incorporates them into his or her work Actively seeks and integrates diverse thoughts and perspectives in order to develop more robust plans and solutions Fosters a climate of inclusion, where diverse thoughts are freely shared and integrated to develop plans and solutions that are best suited to circumstances Reputation for receptiveness to thought diversity makes this individual a magnet for diverse thoughts and perspectives; fosters an organizational climate of inclusion that integrates the best ideas from many varied voices

Culturally educates constituents and encourages cross-cultural interaction, both inside and outside the organization

Overdoing valuing diversity

  • May make too many allowances for members of a particular class
  • May not apply equal standards and criteria to all classes
  • May show an inappropriate preference for a single class of people
  • May compromise standards to achieve diversity

Essential questions

To improve your proficiency, ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis:

  • Do I consistently build teams with individuals who represent a variety of thoughts, races, cultures, age groups, disabilities, and genders?
  • What programs can I bring to the workplace to introduce other cultures in order to enrich myself and others?
  • When I choose people for tasks, do I provide an equal opportunity for participation?
  • What stereotypes do I allow to influence my judgment without even realizing it?
  • What cultural events, such as ethnic community festivals, can I attend in my area?
  • Is there someone in our organization who is of a different cultural background than I with whom I can interact and get to know better?

To avoid overdoing valuing diversity, ask yourself:

  • Am I being overly sensitive to diversity, making undue allowances for some and not others?
  • Am I willing to compromise my judgment or standards to appear that I value diversity?
  • Am I showing an inappropriate preference for one particular class of people?

Interview questions

  • Share a time when you found it difficult to demonstrate an honest respect and appreciation for cultural diversity.
  • Share several situations that showcase your ability to incorporate valuing diversity within your sphere of influence.
  • Share a situation that demonstrates your ability to create a climate in which valuing diversity is the norm.
  • Some of the best solutions are created when diversity of thought is present in the planning and solution development stages. Share a time that showcases your ability to create such an environment.

Learning on the job

Learning on your own: These self-development remedies will help you build your skill(s).
  • Make the business case: Increase diversity in your organization. Communicate equity and value to all. Learn more about the peoples and cultures represented in your community.
  • Provide equal opportunity: Realize that equal opportunity may mean differential treatment. Make adjustments in order to level the playing field for those who may be (or may have been) disadvantaged.
  • Apply the same standards to everyone: After providing differential treatment to balance a disadvantage, the playing field should be equal. When given equal opportunity, equal performance is the desired result.
  • Minimize deference to differences: Diverse teams are generally more creative and innovative. Statistically, however, differences (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.) are not important to getting the job done.
  • Understand your own subtle stereotyping: Assess and correct your pattern of stereotyping. Surface differences don't make a difference in performance.
  • Deal with people equitably: See people as individuals rather than members of a group. Resist the mental exercise of putting people in buckets. Understand without judging; be honest with yourself.
  • Balance people processes: Defeat unintentional inequalities. Drive programming to provide equal information, challenging tasks, and skill-building opportunities to everyone.
  • Address the legitimate demands and concerns of groups: Realize that people will gravitate to others they perceive as having similar needs and demands. Relax and avoid a defensive posture. Attend their group meetings and listen; see if you can help them get what they want.
  • Put diversity to the test: Attack problems with diverse task forces. Assemble the most diverse team you can with the skills to do the task. Spend more time around people who are different from you to gain a broader perspective.
  • Diversify: Interact with people in your organization, neighborhood, or place of worship who are different from you in some way. Visit ethnic festivals; vacation in ethnically diverse areas; travel to areas where you are in the minority or don't speak the language.
Learning from develop-in-place assignments: These part-time develop-in-place assignments will help you build your skill(s).
  • Serve with a community agency for a year or more.
  • Work on an affirmative action plan for your organization and present it to key people.
  • Manage a project team made up of people of several different nationalities.
  • Mentor, teach, or coach someone.
  • Manage a temporary group of resisting people through an unpopular change or project.
Learning more from your plan: These additional remedies will help make this development plan more effective for you.
  • Learning to learn better:
    • Study yourself in detail. Consider which of your likes or dislikes has prevented you from moving to a higher level of learning. Make the necessary change.
    • Examine why you judge people the way you do. List the people you like or dislike and why. Discern what you have in common with them.
  • Learning from experience, feedback, and other people:
    • Use multiple models. Select role models of towering strengths (or glaring weaknesses). Learn from characteristics rather than the whole person.
    • Get feedback from your direct reports. Set a positive tone, and don't retaliate if you don't agree.
    • Learn from limited staff. Look for ways to bring out the best in others who may lack skills or experience. Motivate by being a positive force even in negative situations and by giving feedback. Recognize when it's time to stop trying something and start over.
  • Learning from courses:
    • Take a supervisory course. Review the common practices of effective supervision.
    • Participate in insight events. Take a course designed to assess skills and provide feedback to help you develop self-knowledge.
    • Take a strategic course. Stretch your thinking to prepare for and anticipate future challenges.
    • Have a learning attitude. Be open, close down your "like/dislike" and "agree/disagree" switches. Expose yourself to new lessons, change, and new perspectives. Ask questions.
    • Encourage others to take refresher or preparatory courses. Communicate and be supportive.

Recommended readings

  • Bucher, Richard D., and Patricia L. Bucher.Diversity Consciousness: Opening Our Minds to People, Cultures, and Opportunities.New York: Prentice Hall, 2003.
  • Deresky, Helen.International Management: Strategic and Interpersonal.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.
  • Greer, Charles R., and W. Richard Plunkett.Supervision: Diversity and Teams in the Workplace.Upper Saddle, NJL Prentice Hall, 2002.
  • Harvard Business Review on Managing Diversity.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
  • Harvard Business Review.Phone: 800-988-0886 (U.S. and Canada). Fax: 617-496-1029. Mail: Harvard Business Review. Subscriber Services, P.O. Box 52623. Boulder, CO 80322-2623 USA.
  • Harvey, Carol P., and M. June Allard.Understanding and Managing Diversity: Readings, Cases, and Exercises.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.
  • Hubbard, Edward.The Diversity Scorecard: Evaluating the Impact of Diversity on Organizational Performance.Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003.
  • Jacob, Nina.Intercultural Management.London: Kogan Page, 2003.
  • Lancaster, Lynne C., David Stillman, and Harvey MacKay.When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work.New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
  • Livers, Ancella B., and Keith A. Carver.Leading in Black and White: Working Across the Racial Divide in Corporate America.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 2003.
  • Lustig, Myron W., and Jolene Koester.Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication Across Cultures.Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2002.
  • Middleton, Dewight R.The Challenge of Human Diversity: Mirrors, Bridges, and Chasms.Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 2002.
  • Miller, Frederick A., and Judith H. Katz.The Inclusion Breakthrough.San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2002.
  • Sonnenschein, William.The Practical Executive and Workforce Diversity.New York: NTC Business Books, 1997.
  • Wilson, Trevor and Julie Carswell.Global Diversity at Work: Winning the War for Talent.New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002.

Next steps

Copyright © 1992, 1996, 2001-2003 by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This work is derived from the LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT® Competency Library developed and copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo for Lominger Limited, Inc.

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success.

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