Diversity in America
Why Is the Definition of Diversity Changing in America?
By Travis Blackwell, Professional Business Coach
To be successful in business, the early influx of Irish, Dutch, German and Chinese immigrants to America often had to let go of certain native cultural identities as they attempted to “blend in” to the customs of their new host country. This cultural assimilation is what we proudly think of as the Great American Melting Pot.
Luckily for us, today’s concept of the Melting Pot has changed. But our definition of diversity must change with it. The Melting Pot is now more of a “Salad Bowl.” In the “Salad Bowl” approach, each "ingredient" retains its integrity and flavor, while contributing to a successful final product. Cultural assimilation is no longer required as America continues to trend toward multiculturalism, a phenomenon which includes the preservation and celebration of cultural identity as these identities contribute to American society as a whole. These cultural contributions range from accomplishments in literature and art, to music, dress and new foods, to politics and religion.
Today more than ever, opportunities exist for people of diverse backgrounds and cultures to contribute in a meaningful way to their communities and workplaces. We can look around today and see more Asians, Eastern Indians, Russians and Hispanics in American then ever before. Indeed our definition of diversity must change as our demographics change. African Americans in the U.S. number 35 million—now over 13% of the population and growing rapidly. Hispanics are now the largest minority group in America with a high proportion of younger people. Asians and Pacific Islanders comprise almost 5% of the U.S. population now, and have the highest proportion of college graduates of any racial or ethnic group. And for the first time in 2000, the US Census Bureau gave Americans the opportunity to identify as multicultural, claiming two or more traditional races.
As ethnic and racial groups grow in numbers and influence where whites typically represented the majority, we have the opportunity to change our definition of diversity, and our perspective of America.
Travis Blackwell is a coach and consultant specializing in helping businesses and organizations access and utilize the talent and diversity within their staff and board. He offers free tools for leaders at his website: http://www.yourcreativepotential.com