Diversity finds a truer hue

Diversity is an apple-pie issue if ever there was one. We tend to get behind it in this nation of immigrants.

Colleges display multinational makeups in their catalogs. Some companies do the same in their glossy annual reports.

Multiculturalism was a central theme at major party conventions to start the presidential campaign season.

It has such a nice ring.

But fairly often it still seems caught up in correctness.

Academia? The University of Wisconsin was recently caught adding a black student's face to a sea of white ones in a brochure photo meant to show a mixed-race crowd at a football stadium.

Washington? A Web site called IMDiversity.com asked 27 questions of the top candidates in the presidential race - on such thorny issues as racial profiling and affirmative action.

They got seven answers from the camp of Al Gore, six from George W. Bush's team. The answers read like 13 variations of the Pledge of Allegiance - lofty, bold, but not terribly specific.

The private sector? Still pretty homogenous at the very top. Today's bottom-line scramble just doesn't leave a lot of time for flower arranging - assembling a public face that trumpets diversity for its own sake.

But a less cynical take on workplace diversity is emerging. Part of the reason is organizational. Firms are less hierarchical than before, allowing stars to emerge easier and from all levels.

Part of it is generational. More qualified young workers of all backgrounds and citizenships are competing for key jobs.

Today's lead story looks at a small firm called Obongo. It's a case study in modern diversity.

Reach us at work@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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