From Kindergarten to College and Career, What I Have Learned About Diversity and Inclusion.

This is installment one in a three-part series (1 of 3) on Diversity & Inclusion.

I was fortunate enough to have as one of my three best friends from Kindergarten-12th grade a Japanese American kid named Jimmy Okada. Jimmy and his family were great. His father, Sam, was a Pharmacist and the most educated person in my hometown. Growing up it was my first real exposure to another culture in rural America. Lesson: Expose yourself to other cultures, the earlier in life the better. There are a lot of ways to do so – local, national, global – no one option is better than the other. I would let it happen naturally. My exposure was and I benefited.

When I was in high school my first job was on a sod (i.e. grass) farm where most of the workers were Latinos. It opened me to another language and way of life. Lesson: Work can help break down barriers. Try to get involved in work or community volunteer projects where cooperation, diversity and collaboration exist. Do so with a variety of people where you are racially, economically and/or because of your gender in the minority. It is an effective way to walk in another person’s shoes.

During college, I was a runner at The Denver Post where I was a minority in a department where most of the other drivers were black. Because I worked on Saturdays, and it was more relaxed, all of us would get together after work and play games in the park. Lesson: Integration, a first step of inclusion, is more likely to happen if you work and play together.

These are simple lessons learned from what I believe are successful outcomes. They are experiences that have helped me become a qualified diversity recruiter for many top business schools throughout the world today where I can continue to have an effect and impact.

Good, honest, decent human behavior begins at work and in relationships with other people. I am here to tell you that diversity is easy if you want to make it possible. All of the experiences I have shared serve not only as examples but also as good places for us to start acting upon our own sense of greater diversity and inclusion.

Please join me in part two of Diversity & Inclusion in an upcoming post.

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