Recently, in a meeting waiting for the inevitable straggler to arrive so that we could begin, small talk around the table turned to politics. This wasn’t of the Donald Trump or Barack Obama variety. It was bit more banal. And, in some ways, a bit more insidious. The tone of a few turned to vetting the ideology of a few who were not in the room. “I think that Jane doesn’t share our views,” one person said. The problem with Jane, it seemed, was that her lifestyle choices suggested a lack of progressiveness on her part. Asked if Jane has said or done something to offend the excoriating colleague, he asserted that she had not but that he sensed that she might be wrong-minded, a definition of which was not provided.
Another contributor to the organization jumped into the back-talking about Jane to posit that anyone who doesn’t fit the “culture” of the group should be encouraged to get the “right” mind frame or be gone. Does Jane fit? She does contribute and is well-regarded by others. But, what if her perceived views – or worse, personal choices – are not in step with the controlling sect of the assemblage? If diversity is valued, do we solely regard a diversity of certain types but not others?
Another, cooler-headed person at the table defended Jane’s right to think, to herself, anyway, in a direction that might not be consistent with what the cool kids might like. Just as the battle lines were drawn, the late-comer found their seat and the matter was dropped. Group culture and cohesion does matter. Any coach will claim that the players on the most effective teams share common beliefs, work ethics and demeanors. But, if diversity, especially that of dogma, is most important, can we hope to find any real harmony?