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Diversity As A Mixed Bag

IUPUI supervisors raise their bags high to exhibit their diverse worlds.

IUPUI Office of Equal Opportunity wants to know…”How diverse is your world.” The Human Resources Administration, here at IUPUI, has implemented Fundamentals of Supervision, a 12-week diversity training program. The program is designed to educate supervisions regarding diversity management and team dynamics.

As a part of this training HRA enlisted the assistance of OEO to conduct a diversity exercise to exhibit how diverse the participants’ worlds have been up to this point.

When the participants entered the room they found clear, plastic bags and cups of multicolored marbles at each of their seats. The plastic bags represented their worlds. The marbles consisted of six different colors, all representing the different ethnicities that make up our society. The red marbles represented Native American people. The orange marbles represented Hispanic/Latino people. The yellow marbles represented Asian people. The black marbles represented African/African American people. The white marbles represented Caucasian people.

Naturally, this is a somewhat awkward exercise considering the peculiar racial history of our country, but an eye-opening and relevant exercise nonetheless.

So, the participants were read a series of questions and based on their lives to respond accordingly. Some of the questions asked were:

  • What is the race of the neighbor living on your right?
  • What is the race of your best friend?
  • What is the race of your favorite entertainer?

just to list a few.

These types of questions were designed to examine the choices we make in our personal lives. How diverse are these choices? “What is your race,” was not asked because this is not a choice we are able to make; it is decided for us. The questions asked all represented voluntary decision-making.

At the end of the exercise, participants were asked to hold their bags up high with pride. It didn’t matter if their worlds were as colorful as they would have liked or not. The object of the exercise is to impartially evaluate our decisions, based on diversity, and see if we need to strive for greater diversity or see if you are on the right track.

Don’t fret, though, there is a lot of talk regarding cultural competency we will never reach this height. “Cultural competency is a lifelong journey. We should strive for cultural competency while understanding it will never be attained. Culture is shifts and changes,” said Foreman, “experiences shift and change. So, you can never walk away thinking ‘okay, now I am culturally competent’.”

What suggestions do you have regarding how IUPUI OEO can improve campus diversity?


One comment on “Diversity As A Mixed Bag

  1. […] previous weekend, I repeated the “how diverse is your world?” exercise the Husband and I took 5 years in the past at a transracial adoption parenting seminar.  The […]

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