Covering: The Exclusion of Sexual Orientation from Discussions on Diversity

Arin N. Reeves
August 2008

I have a friend who is a practicing lawyer, a single mother, and a lesbian. Although she is completely open about her sexuality with family and friends, she has come out to only a few people in her workplace. My friend serves on the diversity committee in her office, and she has developed a reputation as a passionate and consistent advocate for diversity.

When it comes to diversity issues in her workplace, she has always spoken up. When the diversity committee met this past May to discuss the addition of sexual orientation as a diversity priority, my friend remained silent. Her colleagues on the diversity committee cited everything from “we don’t have a gay problem here” and “sexual orientation is a private issue, not a workplace issue” to “we already offer domestic partner benefits” as reasons for excluding the category from their diversity efforts. The diversity committee has not yet made a decision, and my friend has not yet broken her silence.

Think Smarter. Lead Better.

  • Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.

    Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.

    Thomas Jefferson
  • The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation -- or a relationship.

    Deborah Tannen
  • Diversity creates dimension in the world.

    Elizabeth Ann Lawless
  • To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

    Tony Robbins
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.

    Louis D. Brandeis
  • Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.

    James Surowiecki
  • When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

    Charles Evan Hughes
  • Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.

    Theodore Roosevelt
  • Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

    Walter Lippmann
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.

    Audre Lorde
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.

    Mahatma Gandhi
  • The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.

    Albert Einstein
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity.They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • One must even beware of too much certainty that the answer to life's problems can only be found in one way and that all must agree to search for light in the same way and cannot find it in any other way.

    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.

    Leo Tolstoy
  • Differences challenge assumptions.

    Anne Wilson Schaef
  • Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.

    Isaac Asimov
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.

    Woodrow Wilson
  • There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.

    Michel de Montaigne
  • Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.

    Madame De Stael
  • It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.

    Albert Einstein
  • Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.

    Malcolm Forbes
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Controversial' as we all know, is often a euphemism for 'interesting and intelligent.

    Kevin Smith