Awards & Contests
Understanding and communicating diversity
Captain Brandi Roundtree spoke from personal and professional experience on the topic of diversity May 2 at the NDPC conference in Minot. Roundtree’s husband, who is also a captain in the U.S. Air Force, is of Korean ancestry. When the two traveled to Korea, she learned she needed to understand and abide by the expectations of another culture.
She explained Korea, like Japan and China, are very formal patriarchal societies, with devotion paid to ancestors and elders. In this culture, women are submissive to men.
Though her husband helps with household duties in America, he was not expected to do women’s work while in Korea, such as picking up an egg that had fallen off the dining room table during a meal. Roundtree said she often bit her tongue as she submitted to her husband to show respect for the culture and be a gracious guest in Korea.
Roundtree works with Minot Air Force Base Equal Employment Opportunity. She has traveled and worked throughout the country. When she moved to Minot from Oklahoma City, she thought cars left running unattended would surely be stolen. Not so, in North Dakota.
On a serious note, she defined personal diversity as “the condition of being different from one another; being composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities.” She noted workplace diversity refers to the “mix of characteristics that each person offers as his or her own set of special talents and abilities to an organization.”
- Personal diversity. Traits can include factors such as race, life experiences, ethnicity, color, culture, generational, gender, national origin, religious, language and abilities.
- Workplace diversity. Traits can include your experiences, position, education, training, skill set, seniority, status and pay grade.
Roundtree noted women and minorities represent more than 50 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Within the next 20 years, one out of four workers will be age 55 or older.
She explained having workplace diversity can help companies recruit the best talent, improve employee commitment and morale, promote effective teamwork and help employees be innovative in meeting costumers’ needs. Diversity can also improve relations with the public and increase productivity.
She mentioned three approaches to diversity.
- Melting Pot approach. Assumes all minorities will eventually blend into the predominant culture.
- Salad Bowl approach. Original components retain their individuality while being bound together for a common purpose.
- Legal approach. In 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established primarily to assist women and minorities, giving employees a manner to deal with job discrimination.
She offered the ACCEPT and DIVERSE acrostics as tools to promote diversity.
- Acknowledge prejudice feelings.
- Consider other’s viewpoints.
- Create mutual respect.
- Express appreciation.
- Pursue common goals.
- Trust others.
- Develop knowledge.
- Identify your own bias.
- Validate varying perspectives.
- Exercise integrity and ethics.
- Recognize improper behavior.
- Show willingness to take risk.
- Exercise strategic thinking.
- Denise Pinkney