Roger Dusing continues our series on Living Our Core Values with a look at INCLUSIVITY.
We embrace INCLUSIVITY that fosters diversity, teamwork, and collaboration
In 1995, BJ Gallagher first published A Peacock in the Land of Penguins. This business fable told the story of a peacock who went to work for a company filled with penguins. The penguins felt the peacock was too colorful and did not fit in. They discounted his ideas and suggestions. But, when the polar bears attacked, the peacock’s new perspectives on the problems saved the day. (I hope I didn’t just ruin the book for you.)
The story is simple, yet the message is profound. If we are all alike, then we think alike and solve problems alike, and probably reach similar conclusions. That makes for a very comfortable environment, but not one that prepares us for the challenges that lie ahead. Park University needs creative solutions to complicated problems. We need a variety of perspectives and opinions. To get that, we need an inclusive workforce – one where those who bring new perspectives and ideas are welcomed and allowed to thrive.
Some organizations call this diversity rather than inclusivity. Here is how I see the difference. Diversity is a measurement – an external evaluation. Inclusivity is an action. We can act in an inclusive manner, and if we do, our actions will result in diversity.
When we behave in an inclusive fashion, we also foster teamwork and collaboration. The act of opening ourselves to other views and opinions encourages us work together. When we collaborate, we find synergy. Stephen Covey says that too many groups embrace the principles of compromise. It sounds easy. We each give up something that we want, so we can get agreement on something else. The problem is that if everybody compromises, nobody gets what they wanted, and the solution is dissatisfying to all. Covey instead suggests synergy. Synergy means that we all work together, collaboratively and inclusively, to reach a unique solution that is better than what was being proposed by any one party.
In addition, collaboration and teamwork foster a shared sense of accountability. When we work together with synergy, we become reliant on each other so we naturally come to expect others to perform. That expectation then translates to a sense of accountability to others and ourselves. If we are not successful, then the team fails and in an inclusive environment, we all work to make sure that does not happen.
Park University values inclusivity. We want people to welcome each other with open arms, and open minds. We want a diversity of thoughts, opinions, backgrounds, and perspectives. We want ideas collaboratively shared, nurtured, and developed. Another word for this idea is collegiality, and where better to experience a collegial environment, than a 140-year-old college founded on Fides et Labor?