Diverse (and, not to be excluded, Diversity)

Wow! Each one of us is diverse! (Except for the white guy on the end.)

Wow! An exciting example of diversity and hackneyed stock photography!

DIVERSE: “very different from each other and of various kinds” – Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

“I am an intelligent, diverse individual.”

Like hell. You may have diverse interests, but you are not diverse. One thing cannot be diverse.

Yes, yes, I know what you mean – that you’re interesting (or maybe unique). Or maybe that’s not what you mean. More and more I see advertisements seeking a “diverse candidate,” meaning, of course, a minority candidate. Now who in the adult working world doesn’t know what diverse is code for? Is it really so terrible to say “minority,” or heaven forbid, “black,” “Hispanic,” “Asian,” or whatever you need? After all, you can have a diversity of personalities (outgoing and reserved), temperaments (introverts and extroverts), even political outlooks. But hey, if it’s racial diversity you seek, fine. Just don’t use diverse to refer to an individual.

I close with this reminiscence. I once worked at a Fortune 500 company, designing recruiting brochures. “We need more, um – diverse people,” the recruiters would say, the “um” signifying the brain shift from “black/Asian/Hispanic” to more politically correct term. So I’d find a few more goshawful stock photographs, careful to select models who differed from the existing models. When they complained they weren’t um – diverse enough, I’d throw in a few beards for variety. I know I was being a jerk. But I felt bad for misleading our new hires. They were expecting to join an ethnically-mixed team of six enthusiastic people in suits. What they got instead were five bored white people in polo shirts.

– Otto E. Mezzo

References: “There is No Such Thing as a Diverse Candidate” http://www.rosettathurman.com/2011/12/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-diverse-candidate/

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