Diversity & Inclusion:
Why Differences are Important

Arin Reeves
August 2011

The following is an excerpt from a recent e-mail that I received from an attorney who is a frequent reader of this column: “Don’t you feel that your work and your writing actually make the differences you seek to erase stand out with greater force? By continuing to focus on differences, are you not, in fact, making the differences stronger than they would be if no one discussed them?”

Since I am so often asked the questions (or similar variants) posed by this reader, this column is a response that addresses both the questions specifically as well as the implications underlying the questions.

Think Smarter. Lead Better.

  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • 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
  • The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.

    Albert Einstein
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Diversity creates dimension in the world.

    Elizabeth Ann Lawless
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.

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

    Herbert Hoover
  • Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.

    Thomas Jefferson
  • Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.

    Mahatma Gandhi
  • 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
  • Controversial' as we all know, is often a euphemism for 'interesting and intelligent.

    Kevin Smith
  • 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
  • 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
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

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

    Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.

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

    Deborah Tannen
  • When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

    Charles Evan Hughes
  • Differences challenge assumptions.

    Anne Wilson Schaef
  • Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

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

    Herbert Hoover
  • 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