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Diversity

June 2005
George Mathews

As expected, I have started receiving fine feedback from members on the work our Executive Committee has done on the strategic plan. There are many points of view which I wish I had space to respond to in this column. If members e-mail me directly, I will disseminate their information to the Executive Committee members and, in some cases, share in this column.

I am also endeavoring to add a location on the USATF Web site where the varying opinions can be viewed, along with my responses.

This honoring of every member's point of view has everything to do with people's understanding of my suggestion to add the practice of diversity to our mission statement. It has become very clear that we all have different ideas of what diversity is.

Most think it is all about race and gender equity. However, it is a lot more than that. I must admit that I am no expert, but am endeavoring to get an education on the subject with the USATF Board of Directors.

After the first session, it became clear to me that this is really part of the "heart and soul" of USATF Masters Track & Field. I am not embracing this in order to "be politically correct," as some have alleged. I will be sharing what I have learned as I get more education and hope to impart this information to all members.

Our understanding starts with the definition of diversity. After we study and understand this, we can really start practicing diversity in everything we do.

Following is the definition given to us by Radious Yvonne Guess of EDU Consultants in her seminar "Thinking Beyond Competition: Diversity Education with the USATF Board of Directors," Boston, Mass., February 26, 2005:

The Four Layers of Diversity

Personality: Why do you feel an immediate closeness with some individuals and an equally quick negative response to others? Personal characteristics form each individual's unique personality.

Internal Dimensions (out of control): Powerful shapers of opportunities, access and expectations; age, gender, race, ethnicity, physical ability, and sexual orientation.

External Dimensions (controlled): Additional influencers of assumption and behavior: religion, marital status, educational background, income, parental status, appearance, personal habits, recreational habits, geographical location, and work experience.

Organizational Dimensions (job related factors): Functional level or classification in workplace (organization), management status, division, department, unit or work group, union affiliation, work location, seniority, work content or field.

Objective: To increase understanding of the dimensions of diversity and to raise awareness about the impact of these dimensions on the organization.

Do we really want to move ahead without diversity as part of our mission statement?

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