By Dean Whittaker

In commerce, diversity of color, race, nationality and sexual orientation may not matter all that much.  What does matter is diversity of thought, experience and ideas, all of which contribute to a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. 

Products go through a natural evolution from the high-margin, low-volume new “new” thing to a commodity focused on high volume, low cost.   The high value added of research, development, innovation and design create the new “new” thing and bring it to the marketplace.

Diversity does matter in order for communities and companies to participate in the global marketplace.  Without the diversity of thoughts and ideas, the creative process is limited, and with it the ability to conjure up those products and services that will allow the area and its workers and its companies to prosper in a highly competitive world.

At a recent chamber of commerce retreat, the only non-white participant, a Japanese-American, explained to the audience what it felt like to be ignored by the sales staff when shopping at a local retail establishment. After the mayor apologized on behalf of the community to the young man, one of the other participants said that not until we are broken-hearted over this incident rather than just apologizing will anything change in our community.

At the conclusion of the retreat, the facilitator asked each of us what one thing we could do personally that would make a difference. How about you?