From their Diversiphile® mental frame, the primary adherents and proponents of Diversity’s philosophy of multifariousness promote a generally positive attitude toward most “differences.”
When the Diversiphile® mental frame is viewed as an ideology, adherents are said to embrace differences as a proxy for culture. Proponents contend that diversity is a proxy for latent added value. Ardent Diversiphiles learn and study to become expert in differences. Often through “Culture Competence” training they have been taught to describe and value virtually anyone with the crystalized clarity of sound bites such as “gay,” “generations” (X, Y, Z and more), “minority” or compounds like “transgender” or “hearing-impaired.”
Diversiphilia, an ever-hopeful tenet of valuing differences coupled with the ingrained belief that diversity, heterogeneity, universally represents an elevated state and inevitable incremental gains in revenues, productivity, creativity and profit. An unflagging belief that the more diversity the merrier, Diversiphiles represent the often Pollyannaish opposition force to what they see as a predominant and Machiavellian diversiphobic agenda of cultural homogeneity.
Describing a “cult of diversity,” authors John Derbyshire and Peter Wood lament, “The ideal of diversity” is that once individuals of diverse backgrounds are brought together, a transformation will take place in peoples attitudes–primarily within the members of the formerly exclusive group, who will discover the richness of the newcomers’ cultural backgrounds. Diversity will breed tolerance and respect, and, because it increases the pool of skills, will enhance the effectiveness of work groups and contribute to economic prosperity. In the more extended flights of the Diversiphile’s imagination, diversity creates good will and social betterment in every direction. The African-American manager, the gay white secretary and the Latino consultant learn from each other’s distinctive cultural experience and become better workers, better citizens, better persons.”
As a label, the dominant tendency of the Diversiphile is a stereotype for those who blithely disseminate the philosophy of diversity, ensure the formal and/or informal indoctrination and conversion of Diversiphobes, helping them to see the light, and to engender and incorporate diversity in all aspects of work, community and their society. Diversity is seen as the spice, the underlying nature of life. This, as Derbyshire contends, is a “kind of magical, counterfactual thinking” that flies in the face of the human condition, steeped in intercultural conflict.
Author and psychoanalyst Michael Maccoby said that “how people describe each other is a kind of warfare…a very primitive way of looking at each other.” (Authors@Google: Michael Maccoby, YouTube, Dec 10, 2007) And yet, Diversiphiles™ have built, promoted and spread Diversity Programs based in ascription, the use of that primitive level of differences as a foundation for multicultural interaction.
Diversiphiles have sustained the corporate tryst with some difficulty. Its often been a one-sided love affair, an unrequited obsession with preparing undeclared and unapologetic Diversiphobes for enlightenment in valuing differences, but without effective tools for confronting the countervailing realities of the tide of equal and opposite diversiphobic reactions.
Diversiphilian campaigns for dignity, respect, inclusiveness, civility and more fall on tone deaf diversiphobic ears. Broadly reported and long standing disparities persist and abound. Results notwithstanding, for about forty years, the entire corporate and professional community has been locked into a sound bite, “Diversity,” the one word-framework for a floundering, foundering diversiphilian struggle for acceptance.
At InclusiveWorks®, we hold a different perspective. At a much higher level, Diversiphile® is a thought topology, a frame of reference, just as Diversiphobe™ is a separate and distinct mirror-image thought topology and frame, each with associated and identifiable systems of belief, attitudes and behaviors. They are perhaps the extreme ends of a spectrum of diversity-related mental frames. In a culture context, they are learned, and can therefore be unlearned. The change function or “unlearning process” is accomplished through facilitating a dynamic state between the two, a “culturefaring” third space of neutrality.
Would you like to see the traditional difference-based framework of conflict between Diversiphiles and Diversiphobes managed out of your organization?
CONTACT US for information on the Managing and Working Effectively With the Diversiphile or Diversiphobe in your business or professional career, and how to escape the cycle of conflict between Diversiphobes and Diversiphiles through a CultureNeutral® Framework.
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